One day, out of the blue, I got an email from a friend that contained only a link in the body. The link was to Cheeseburger in a Can. (Go ahead, browse the site. I’ll give you a second. Then come right back here, ok?)
My friend asked if I would ever consider eating a cheeseburger from a can, and I said I’d probably eaten worse. Like Spam. Or “Potted Meat”.
As you’ll see from the Cheeseburger in a Can link, the whole site is devoted to wacky cheeseburgers in general. But farther down the page is this image:
And at the bottom under Preparation, are directions to “heat the unopened can in a bain-marie for approx 10 minutes…” He wanted to know what on EARTH that was, and found it extremely enticing. He’s an outdoor man, himself, and wanted to ensure that when he stocked up on these Cheeseburgers-in-Cans, that he’d be able to finangle something to cook them in while camping.
Really. Because I think that’s just WEIRD. But I came back to him with a report.
This is the right-out-of-the-store Bain-Marie. Essentially it’s two pieces: a pitcher-like device that heats up water (like a hot pot), and then a saucer or dish that fits over the top. It’s designed to keep foods warm, but not necessarily cook them. If you’ve been to a buffet of some sort, you’ve probably seen the industrial-sized bain-maries (below) that are used with multiple trays of food.
Ring a bell? Makes me think of a Chinese buffet back in Cheyenne, WY. *drools a bit* Sorry.
I don’t know too many households that have an actual store-bought bain-marie on hand, but I’m sure loads of restaurants have them. A traditional hot pot won’t work, unless you’re using the hot water for the next option.
A water bath is a more popular choice. It’s wonderful for custards, creme brulees, cheese cakes, souffles, or any delicate dessert/pastry that needs to be moist to cook and rise. But the water bath can also keep whatever you need to warm…like a bain-marie.
To make a water bath, you fill a large casserole dish, or lasagna pan, or something fairly deep with a few inches worth of hot water. The water surrounds your filled baking dish. At this point you could just use the hot water to warm your dish…or.. stick it in the oven.
As this bakes, the water evaporates, creating a humid, steamy oven interior in which your baked good becomes moist and delicious. It also keeps the tops of the baked items from cracking, falling in or drying out.
(I’ve also seen this referred to as a Cheesecake Moat. Makes me wish I had a little heat-resistant dragon toy to throw in…alrighty…moving on.).
Then, there’s a double boiler. It is typically used to melt baking goods: chocolate chips, peanut butter, candy, caramel, frosting, butter, sugar, etc; or to mix sauces so the flavors mingle together better.
This device can be done multiple ways, either by buying a double boiler in a store (a saucepan bottom that has a fitted bowl on top with a lid: the first photo), or making one with a saucepan and a glass/stainless steel bowl on top (second photo).
For our recent wedding, we got a double boiler, which holds more than the bowl I have been using. Depending on my mood (and whether I actually want to lug out my double-boiler), I’ll just use the second method.
I think my friend would be able to wrangle something out of a small pot he brings along for beans, and a metal bowl. He seems content to buy a stack of those canned burgers, and I am anxiously awaiting a report on how they taste.
Got a preferred method that you like to use? (Have you ever tried a Cheeseburger in a Can btw?)