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How to keep food hot *and* crisp between grilling and serving?

d
damian Jan 21, 2012 01:44 AM

I'm becoming obsessed with grilling, but I'm having a problem: I have a small grill, so I have to cook the food in many rounds. And my small-but-amazingly-powerful Solaire Everywhere Infrared Grill has no warming rack. Furthermore, since it's cold and rainy outside, I need to bring the food inside to eat after grilling. In the meantime, the food invariably gets either cold or soggy. I'm hoping someone here can help me figure out how to keep the food hot *and* crisp.

I'm grilling steak of veggies. If I tent the steak and veggies with aluminum foil and vented sides, they stay crisp, but they get cold. If I insulate them using any materials that completely cover the food, the food remains hot but gets soggy (presumably from the steam that the food emits). And if I vent the foil only a little, then I end up with lukewarm, slightly-less-soggy food, which is also not good.

I think I read that steakhouses use heat lamps prior to serving, but I'm not sure how that would work if I'm transporting food in the rain on a gravel pathway from my deck to my apartment, with no electrical outlets by the grill.

I've also looked into cordless warming trays/buffet servers (e.g., http://www.amazon.com/Toastess-TWB454... ), but I suspect that these will either let the top of the food get cold (with no lid) or steam the food (with lid on).

I'm open to the possibility of a propane heater, but I can only find propane heaters that angle either up or sideways, not down, so I don't see how that could work.

So I currently have no solution, and am desperate for hot, crisp, grilled meat and veggies. Any suggestions?

  1. w
    wyogal Jan 21, 2012 04:19 AM

    If you are willing to spend money to keep the food warm, why not just get a bigger grill?
    I just looked up your grill, never seen one of those before. But, if it's too small for your needs, then why do you love it? Just wondering.
    Why not keep things warm in an oven?

    1 Reply
    1. re: wyogal
      coll Jan 21, 2012 04:38 AM

      The oven, yeah. Put it on 200- 250 and it will hold forever. If you're cooking lots of food, you must have other people there that can bring it inside for you. Or go ahead and have an underground outdoor electrical outlet installed so you'll have plenty of options. Then you can go buy a heat lamp at the restaurant supply, although they are only for short term holding. OOPS sorry I just saw you live in an apartment. Well back to the oven idea. I always hold my fried food in there for quite awhile, veggies would be fine but steak might be tricky if you leave it too long.

    2. cowboyardee Jan 21, 2012 06:37 AM

      I agree with the above suggestions - set your oven to its lowest temperature. Invest in some cheap wire racks that fit in your sheet pans so you don't leave food sitting in their own juices and getting soggy.

      Veggies will hold well. Meats are a little trickier. Chicken should be fine if your oven temp is low enough. Most ovens seem to go down to about 170, so overcooking chicken shouldn't be a huge issue.

      For beef, lamb, pork, fish, etc - you're going to have to finesse it a little bit. The first steaks off the grill go on a wire rack and sit at room temp for a little bit to rest and cool just enough that they don't overcook. As later steaks come off the grill, those first ones go in the oven while the next steaks rest, but not quite as long. They go in the oven after a short bit while you finish cooking the last steaks (obviously, in my example you are cooking three batches - adjust as you see fit to your needs).

      In other words, it can be done. Now as far as something you can park right by your grill to achieve the same effect... I'm out of ideas. An umbrella helps keep the rain away, at least.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cowboyardee
        d
        damian Jan 30, 2012 08:20 PM

        Thanks, cowboy (sorry for the slow reply—the notifications got caught in my spam folder). Anyway, I did exactly as you suggested—sheet pans, wire racks, oven on the lowest temperature—and it works perfectly. Thanks again!

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