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Entries in holding meat (2)


Review: Cambro Food Carrier

I've written before about holding hot food for significant periods of time before serving.  You don't have to purchase special equipment to acomplish this, while ensuring that your product is safe to serve.

However, there are products targeted at the catering and food service business that make this simple and they've beome quite popular among competition BBQ teams.  Now I don't compete, nor do I cater.  But I do find myself cooking large quantities for a variety of charitable functions.  


It was this activity (and my insatiable need to acquire new gear) that led me to acquire a couple of Cambro Food Carriers .  I'd priced these through a variety of restaurant supply websites and stores, but couldn't bring myself to spend the money for a new one.  Enter, Craigslist.  I kept a eye out for awhile and finally my patience was rewarded.  I was able to acquire 2 slightly used Cambro's for the the cost of one new one.

The cool thing about these warming cabinets is that they have rails along the sides that will support food pans.  The disposable aluminum pans that I typiclally use fit just fine also, although the lip of the disposable pans won't support much weight if you overload them.  The cabinets are polythylene (that's a fancy word for plastic) and insulated to keep heat loss to just a couple of degrees/hr.  The doors are gasketed and the latches ensure a tight seal.

I've been very happy with these and use them quite often. I've held pork butt for 4+ hours, and transported BBQ all over the midwest.  So, if you're looking for a way to hold and transport hot food you can't go wrong with a Cambro Food Carriers



Tip: Holding Meat Until Mealtime

If you spend any time at all reading the numerous BBQ forums on the interwebs, you'll see a question asked quite often. "The meat's done too early, how do I keep it warm until dinner?"  When cooking low 'n' slow over an extended period of time, you can run into this situation quite often. 

Photo from the Naked Whiz Photo from the Naked Whiz
Here's how to deal with it:

  • When the meat hits the desired internal temperature (you are checking internal temps and not cooking by the clock, right?), pull if off the cooker and double wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil.
  • Poke your thermometer through the foil so you can continue to monitor internal temperature of the meat.
  • Then wrap the meat in an old towel or blanket for extra insulation, leaving the thermometer or lead from your thermometer probe accessible.
  • Place the wrapped meat into a dry cooler.  Some folks like to preheat the cooler with warm water, but that's a personal preference.
  • Periodically check the meat's temperature.  As long as it stays above ~150* or so you should be okay.  Remember the danger zone for meat is between 45*-140* or so.  If the meat spends more then a couple of hours in the danger zone, be safe and don't eat it.
  • When it's time to serve, unwrap the meat and serve it as you normally would.

Using this method, I've personally been able to hold ~65lbs. of pork butt for 5+ hours.  However, if the meat drops below the saftey threshold I'd recommend you move to plan B.  Pull the pork, refrigerate, and reheat at mealtime.  I'll cover reheating another time.

Check out a much more detailed description at

I usually try to error on the side of being too early and pad my start time a little.  Given my choice of having meat done too soon or too late, I'll take too soon any time.  I'd much prefer to hold the meat than to try to hurry it up.