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Keeping burgers warm?

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Layla Miller:
DD's birthday is next month, and DH and I are planning to host some family and friends for a party (4 - 6 PM).  We're going to serve hamburgers (among other things) and we're trying to figure out how we can cook them in the afternoon before the party and keep them warm until 5.  The best idea we've come up with is to put them in those aluminum foil trays, cover them with foil, and put them in the oven to keep warm.

Do any of you hosting pros have better tricks up your sleeves?  I'd love to hear them!

Some questions...
- Exactly how long will there be between cooking and serving?
- Where is the party? Is it at your house where you have access to an oven?

No matter what I'd advise 2 hours as the absolute maximum time without refrigeration.
If it's at your house I'd put the oven on a low temperature (above 150), and put the burgers in the oven in a covered tray (foil should work) to keep in the juices in so they don't dry out. That'll keep them at a temperature above the food "danger zone", and they shouldn't burn as long as they aren't in there too long.

Yes, by some people's standards I tend to be overly cautious about this, but I worked in food services previously so it's been drilled into me.

Layla Miller:
The party will be at the church fellowship hall, and we'll have access to an oven.  The two hour limit should be fine--we can cook them about an hour before the party and serve them at around 5.  Thanks!  :)

If you are going to do this, grill them until they are just done.  Don't overgrill them or they will not be as tasty, possibly even hard by the time you serve them.

Is there a reason you must do burgers rather than another meat that would be easier to serve fresh?  Is there a reason you couldn't make them there--pan fry or indoor grill so they would be fresh? (I know dh wants to socialize, too, but the guys would probably hang out in the kitchen with him while he is making them.)

I was at a large outdoor catered picnic with burgers that were served from large foil pans that were filled with a very dark liquid. It looked strange to me so I asked the caterer about it. He told me that after all kinds of experimenting with keeping burgers warm for big picnics, he had the most success with keeping them in a heater (or low oven/warming drawer/over a burner) in foil pans filled with Coke. He said that they didn't pick up any funny flavors (which was true) and they didn't dry out or get soggy (also true).

I've used the same trick myself and was happy with the results.


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