You're in the middle of making a culinary masterpiece when you realize that not only have you run out of counter space, but you also need to keep the food warm until the guests arrive. What's a cook to do?
Most home chefs don't have a team of line cooks on multiple cooktops, so a warming drawer provides a place to store gastronomic delights between prep and serve. As the name implies, warming drawers are designed to keep hot food warm and moist (or crispy, as the case may be), not to actually cook the food. They're also ideal for warming dinnerware or proofing yeast-based breads.
Fueled by electricity, a warming drawer uses about a quarter of the power-from 450 to 600 watts-that an electric oven would typically draw to heat food. Most warming drawers have hidden controls; low, medium and high settings; a rack on which to place food; and a control or sensor to regulate humidity. Use the moist setting to keep your mashed potatoes perfectly moist; use the crisp setting to keep your French fries crispy. White, black, biscuit and stainless steel are the standard finish options.
For more money, you can add more bells and whistles on your warming drawer:
- A timer allowing you to keep dishes warm for up to four hours.
- Multiple warming pans and racks (These are often available as accessories.)
- A proof setting. This is between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit; the low to high settings usually span from 135 degrees to around 230 degrees.
- Drawer fronts that accept custom wood panels to match your cabinets. Some manufacturers also offer designer colors.
Sizes: 24, 27, 30 or 36 inches wide. Most warming drawers fit into a standard kitchen cabinet space.
Price: From $600 to $1,700, with most in the $800 to $1,000 range