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Keeping fried fish warm during an outdoor fish fry on a cold Minnesota evening

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I've been watching this community for a while but have never posted.

I hold a fish fry every year in the fall with fish that my brother and I have caught throughout the year. It's an outdoor / backyard affair with a large 4 quart dutch oven cooker over a propane cooker. I prepare beer battered fish with cheese curds and homemade chips. I'll end up frying for a number of hours.

The problem is that we'll have a REALLY cold evening this weekend in Minnesota. It'll get down to 30 F or so. (That'll learn me for holding the party so late in the year). Usually the fish, chips, and curds go fast that it's not a problem to keep the food warm (plus it's usually 40 degrees warmer). I'm expecting that many people this year will come early and therefore I'll be frying up earlier in the day to accommodate folks.

I'm concerned about keeping the food warm. I've been wondering about purchasing some chafing dishes. I'm wondering however if I use a chafing dish with water in the bottom and then cover the food, it'll stay warm, but get soggy. Perhaps a heat lamp?

Any tips for keeping fried food warm? Thanks Chowhound community!

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  1. Covering fried food is definitely asking for it to get soggy. Is it convenient to use your oven indoors? If so, have the oven heated to 200ish (with convection on, if you have it) and put trays of fried goodies (on racks so the air can circulate around them) in the oven for holding. It will keep them hot and crisp for a couple of hours. A heat lamp is a better bet than chafing dishes for outdoor use, but I don't know if they're powerful enough to stand up to 30 degree temps and wind.

    1. <<<<I'll end up frying for a number of hours>>>>

      IMO you need a (much) larger pot ~~ Fry it outdoors and eat inside ~~ Have Fun!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Bob

        I was thinking that too - my largest Le Creuset is a 9 qt and even there I wouldn't try to fit more than 6-8 pieces of fish at once, depending on size.

        1. re: Uncle Bob

          Ooops - sorry it's an 8.5 quart. Also, I've got a huge backyard and a 1 bedroom apartment and about 40 guests. :(

        2. Does anyone have a turkey fryer you could use? We can do about 5 - 8 lbs of chicken wings at a time in our turkey fryer. Maybe get two turkey fryers going - one with cheese curds and chips, one for fish?