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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1695

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CHAFING DISH AND CASSEROLE COOKERY

 
CHAPTER L
 

The Chafing Dish.

The Chafing Dish, which exemplifies the earliest known method of cooking, has lately become very popular for cooking supper dishes, for use in the sick room, and amongst bachelors and Bohemians. It is a portable utensil, costing from £1 to £3, is usually made of silver or electro-plated metal, and is placed upon and used at the table at which the meal is to be served. Food can be either cooked, re-heated, or kept hot in it, and one of the chief advantages of the Chafing Dish is that the meal is served quite hot immediately the cooking is finished. The Chafing Dish is really a species of bain marie or double boiler, but the whole process of cooking may be performed in it without the aid of any other utensil or appliance.

A Chafing Dish is composed of four parts: the spirit lamp; the frame or stand in which the lamp is set, and on top of which the Chafing pan rests; the hot water pan, which is provided with two handles, and serves the same purpose as the lower part of the double boiler; and the blazer or pan in which the food is cooked.

The lamp is the most important part, and is furnished with either a cotton or an asbestos wick. When the wick is of cotton, it is regulated in the same manner as an ordinary lamp; but when of asbestos, the lamp is filled with porous stone, and covered with wire netting, like the old-fashioned spirit lamp, and the flame is regulated by a couple of slides which cover the netting and are made to shut off and let on the flame at will. Spirit is the fuel commonly used, but only the very best should be purchased, as the cheaper kinds are often very troublesome, and sometimes dangerous. The lamp holds about two gills of spirit, and that quantity will burn for about half an hour.

The Chafing Dish should always rest upon a metal tray, for a slight draught may cause the flame to flare outwards and soil, or even set fire, to the table-cloth.

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