Today’s Hot Dog Cart Q and A is from Renee Crenshaw. Renee writes:
Q: Hi Steve,
I got a lot of good info out of the propane/electric thing. I have a question that I’d like to ask also – it’s something that’s bugged me since I first got started last summer. How does everyone keep their chili from burning in the pan?
After much trial and error, I came up with a workable solution, but I’d like to see how everyone else is doing it…..
Like I said, it took a lot of trial and error, but what I ended up with was a very rudimentary “dutch oven” type of set up. I use a heavy glass bread loaf pan to put the chili in and set it into a 1/2 pan with some water in it.
You have to be careful not to put too much water in as it will boil over into the chili. Watered down chili is a real turn off which happened to me a couple of times!
I’m thinking of modifying it even further by building a metal stand to put the loaf pan on for two reasons – one so I can put more water in, thereby heating the dogs and the chili at the same rate of time, (the way it is now, the chili is boiling way before the dogs are hot), also because the loaf pan sits so far down in the 1/2 pan that it’s awkward to spoon the chili out.
Hope this all makes sense.
A: Most hot dog carts come with three to five 1/3 size pans, or some combination thereof, usually positioned directly over the burners. This is great for rapid heating of water, but for warming chili, cheese, or sauerkraut…not so much. The direct heat is just too much and the contents of the pan quickly start to burn and stick to the bottom.
I solved that problem on the E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart by designing it with a true steam table.
Instead of pans over direct heat, the E-Z Built cart uses a six inch deep full size “spillage pan” which is slightly larger in all dimensions than a standard full size pan. Spillage pans are designed to accept standard fractional size pans (1/3, 1/2, etc.)
Here’s how it works:
Add an inch or two of water to the 6″ deep spillage pan, then drop in any combination of 4″ deep pans that you wish. I use two 4″ deep perforated pans with hinged covers, one to steam the buns, and one to keep the dogs warm (I don’t serve chili or cheese). Since the pans are over hot water, never in direct contact with the flame, nothing burns or sticks to the bottom.
The E-Z Built also comes with a separate 1/2 size pan over direct heat for fast boiling.
You could use the spillage pan set up with two 1/3 size pans for dogs and buns, and two 1/6 size pans for chili and cheese.
What is your set up? Let us know in the comments!