When you are having friends over there are two situations you want to avoid.
- You cook the food way to early and no one is ready to sit down yet.
- You hold of cooking until later in the day and everyone starts getting hungry and annoyed.
How can you avoid these two situations?
A little something called a Cambro, or more specifically a faux I bet some of you are thinking, what the hell is a faux Cambro Charlie??
Ill tell you what a faux Cambro is: its something that works for me, my neighbours and the professionals.
A Cambro is the real deal. It an important tool in the kitchen for any caterer or kitchen professional.
It is made by Cambro Manufacturing. It essentially a box that is insulated.
The box allows caterers to transport or hold food while still adhering to food safe temperatures.
Some examples of use include weddings, school trips or conferences.
What Is A Faux Cambro?
So what is A faux Cambro then? Its simply really.
A faux Cambro is the home version of a Cambro.
As I mentioned above A Cambro is essentially an insulated box which keeps the food in the box within the food safety zone. Which is above 140°F.
The good news is you don’t need to spend a tonne of money to get something that works as well as the real deal. Step in the faux Cambro.
The good news is you most likely already have one and that is in the form of your plastic beer cooler. A beer cooler will allow you to keep food both hot and cold, just like a Cambro.
If you don’t have one, it is time to invest in a cooler (come everyone needs a cooler). Make sure you get one that is well insulated, easy to drain, seals tightly and easy to clean. Also make sure you get something big enough that can fit decent sized aluminum pans inside. Think racks or ribs, pork butts or even a whole turkey.
I use the Coleman 48 Quart Cooler, it manages to hold my weight as a seat, seals tight and works well for keeping in heat as well as the cool.
How Do I Use A Faux Cambro?
The key here is to cook your food ahead of time.
If your meat should take three hours to cook, put it on four hours before you plan on serving it – that way your meat will be reading and waiting for your guests.
- When you’re about 45 minutes off finishing up smoking your chosen cut of meat (I often use my pellet smoker) prepare your faux Cambro.
- Start off by pouring 2 to 3 gallons of hot tap water into the faux Cambro and quickly shut the lid.
- Keep it shut for around 30 minutes while your meat finishes cooking. Once the meat is cooked pour out the water.
- Wrap your cooked meat in foil (and leave your meat thermometer in it to keep a close eye on the internal temperature) and place on an aluminium pan and place in the Faux Cambro.
- Close the lid and hang the thermometer out of the lid. You’re able to keep your meat inside of this set up for around 3-4 hours and still be way above the food safety zone. Make sure you have a good quality meat thermometer to avoid any issues.
You will find this technique works well for all meat, however, there is an exception. If your after crispy skins and crusty bark you might find that Cambro will soften and lose its original texture.
How Do I Clean A Faux Cambro?
To keep your faux Cambro in best condition and to avoid it developing a smell always ensure you clean it out after every use!
The best way that I have found is to just use soap, water and a good amount of elbow grease!
If you need a little more cleaning power you can use soap with a little bit of bleach water or dilute some chlorine with a few gallons of water. I would only suggest this method for really stubborn stains or smells though.
Charlies Final Thoughts on the Faux Cambro
Sometimes you don’t need the best equipment to get the job done. Sometimes you can get by perfectly fine with a home job.
Creating your own Cambro will give you a little more flexibility and freedom at your next backyard gathering.
You can stop worrying so much about the timing of the food and concentrate on the quality!