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Cook Talk

Electric Water Pan Chafing
Judy W
Hi Ellen,
I just bought 2 electric water pans, each holds the full tray and a full deep lid goes over it. I plan to cater 3 half trays of food: chicken franchese, eggplant parm and a ziti and I will make broccoli at home. My questions are, the food will be picked up (and brought home in an crockpot insulated food carrier to keep hot, does that seem safe for a 10 -15 min trip?) and food comes in those aluminum half trays, can I just put the 2 aluminum trays in the full metal tray? They do fit and I don't want much cleanup. The electric water pan has a temperature dial, do you know how hot the pan water should be to keep the food at 140 degrees? or should I just set water to high (185* F) put the food in then monitor food temp and adjust dial to keep food at 140? the pan water actually boils if I put it too high. Should pan water be hotter for italian dishes than for chicken? Don't want to overcook the food either. I'm just getting a bit nervous about this but am very excited to try electric water pans. And glad I found your very informative website. Thank you for your advice.
It usually takes about 1/2 hour for non-electric pans to get hot enough to keep the food safe. For the electrics, setting to 185 and then turning down to keep the food at 160 (standard safe food temp point) is perfect, just do allow time. You don't want a full boil, you want just steam- it is steam, NOT hot water, that keeps the food at the correct temp without overcooking, so also, the water should not touch the bottom of the food pan.

Same temp in the pan for all dishes, 160-

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