The Best Methods for Prepping Plant-based Meats

prepping plant-based meats
prepping plant-based meats
beyond meatballs

Ah, prepping plant-based meats. Despite murmurs to the contrary, plant-based meats are expected to continue gaining popularity. Experts say that by 2027 the plant-based meat market is expected to reach 15.7 billion USD globally.

With a growing number of operations adding plant-based dishes to their menus, we wanted to test the best way to cook these no carne creations.

We tested two product brands:

All product packaging included cooking directions, which were universally to cook in a skillet. We wanted to test and compare the recommended cooking method to cooking in a CVap® oven. Per the instructions, Beyond products were cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. Impossible products were cooked to 160°F.

We used an induction burner and a preheated non-stick skillet for the traditional prep.

Our CVap oven was an RTV7-05UV, preheated to Vapor 200°F / Air 350°F. We used parchment-lined sheet pans.

Prepping Plant-based Meat:Products

  • Beyond Sausage – Hot Italian
    Recommended Skillet Cook Time: 10 minutes, turning frequently
    Actual Skillet Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
    CVap Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Beyond Sausage Brat Original
    Recommended Skillet Cook Time: 6 minutes, turning halfway through
    Actual Skillet Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
    CVap Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Beyond Meatballs Italian Style
    Recommended Skillet Cook Time: 7-8 minutes, turning continuously
    Actual Skillet Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
    CVap Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Impossible Sausages – Italian
    Recommended Skillet Cook Time: 10-12 minutes, turning every two minutes
    Actual Skillet Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
    CVap Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Impossible Burger Patties
    Recommended Skillet Cook Time: cook two minutes per side until the level of doneness reached
    Actual Skillet Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
    CVap Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
prepping plant-based meats
prepping plant-based meats
prepping plant-based meats

The Cooking Results



  • Great seared aesthetic. The product appearance matched what consumers would expect from “real” meat.


  • Skillet cooking took much longer to reach the internal temperature than indicated on the label.
  • Searing created a bitter taste that was not expected.
  • Mouthfeel was much drier compared to CVap-cooked products.



  • We were able to prepare everything in CVap within 30 minutes, from panning, to cooking, to holding.
  • Actual cook time was comparable to skillet cooking in most cases.
  • Product integrity held up through the cooking and holding processes.
  • Each product retained more moisture compared to skillet-cooked products.


  • Lack of browning, compared to skillet-cooked products (but that may not be a “bad” thing).

Holding Plant-based Meats

  • All products maintained integrity, regardless of cooking method.
  • CVap-cooked products held their moisture much better than the skillet-cooked versions.
  • Skillet-cooked products got increasingly bitter over time.
  • It would be safe to assume that the CVap-cooked products could have held another hour without quality degradation.
prepping plant-based meats

If your operation offers plant-based products at any scale, the CVap-cooked method is the obvious way to go. Not only can you be prepping plant-based meats in much higher quantities, but it also brings out the product’s best qualities, juiciness, mouthfeel, and flavor. Most notably, CVap-cooked products didn’t develop the bitter taste that was so noticeable with the skillet-prepped products. Although CVap-cooked products didn’t brown like their skillet-prepped counterparts, this could be overcome with a quick finish on a grill (so long as it doesn’t linger long enough to turn bitter).

Regardless of the cooking method, product quality was solidly maintained in a CVap warming drawer. The same could be expected from a CVap holding cabinet.

prepping plant-based meats

Dulce de Leche in CVap®

dulce de leche overnight
Dulce de leche

Dulce de leche, or caramelized milk, is a popular Latin American confection. When prepared old-school, sugar, and milk are slowly heated for several hours. The resulting substance has a spreadable, sauce-like consistency. Dulce de leche derives its rich flavor and color from non-enzymatic browning. It is typically used to top or fill other sweet foods.

A much less labor-intensive method of making dulce de leche is by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two to three hours on the stovetop by placing the cans in a large pot and then covering them with water. Although this method is easier, it can also be risky. If the boiling water level drops below the can line or evaporates altogether, the can may explode. Your kitchen will be showered in shrapnel and magma-like dulce de leche sprayed across the room. 

A Safer Dulce de Leche

To make dulce de leche the easy (and safer) way, without the danger of boiling cans in pans, make it in a CVap® oven. CVap technology uses heated water vapor as its primary heat source. This heated vapor carries the same thermal energy as boiling water, cooking just as efficiently. If there is water in the oven’s evaporator pan, there’s vapor in the oven’s interior environment, creating a cushion of safety.

Dulce de leche

We tested three different brands of sweetened condensed milk: Eagle Brand, Kroger Brand, and Baker’s Corner (Aldi’s brand).

Although the three brands listed the same basic ingredients (milk and sugar), the results varied a bit. Eagle and Kroger developed a shiny, thick custard consistency, and had similar flavor profiles. On the other hand, Baker’s Corner had a noticeable loose consistency and was highly granulated near the bottom of the can. Based on these results, we advise doing a little testing with the condensed milk brands available in your area, to determine which brand delivers the most satisfying results for you.

Dulce de Leche Cooking Method

Preheat the CVap oven to cook for 6 hours with Vapor 200°F/Air 200°F (this setting will produce 100 percent relative humidity inside the cabinet).

setting the cvap controller

Set cans on a sheet pan (perforated ones works best) and place them in the oven. DO NOT FORGET to press the lighted “Enter ü” button to start the timer.

canned milk

Allow cans to sit in the oven until cool. The CVap Overnight Cooking Process is an outstanding process for this method. Load the oven and go home.

dulce de leche overnight

Our dulce de leche was rich and creamy and made an excellent base for some delicious flan. This is also an excellent method to produce dulce de leche in bulk, unlike the stove top method where only a few cans be made.

If you’re not using the auto-water fill function on your CVap, check the oven’s water level periodically to ensure the evaporator doesn’t go dry. Transparency Note: we have never tested cans of sweetened condensed milk in a dry oven. But since the cooking temperature (200°F) is well below the boiling point for water (212° F), there is little concern about a safety hazard. However, the consistency of the ending product may be affected.

Once cooled, the cans may be stored at room temperature indefinitely or for about a month once the can is opened and refrigerated.

dulce de leche dessert

Prepare Perfect Pastelitos


Want to whip up a little snack with a Latin flavor? Check out this recipe for pastelitos!

What are Pastelitos?

As the name implies, pastelitos are small pastries wrapped in a pastry shell (think small empanadas). Variations of pastelitos can be found throughout the Spanish-speaking world.


Pastelito Settings

We used a CVap RTV7-05UV Retherm Oven.

Cook Time: 20 to 30 minutes.
The cook time depends on the pastry size, the filling type, and your expectations of doneness.

This recipe is unusual because it’s baked in a CVap oven without water.

Vapor Cook Temp: OFF (remove water from the evaporator)

Air Cook Temp: 325°F

retherm oven


  • Prepared puff pastry – (found in your grocery’s freezer section)
  • Guava Paste – (we used Goya)
  • Cream cheese – (optional)
  • 1 Egg – Large
  • 2-3 Tbs Milk
  • 1-2 Tbs Sugar


  1. Whisk egg and milk together and set aside. This is your egg wash.
  2. Unpackage thawed puff pastry and unroll. The typical retail package contains two sheets.
  3. Use a ruler to measure the length and width of the pastry sheet. Use a knife to make the appropriate cuts. We used 4” squares to make the larger triangles and 2” squares for the smaller ones.
  4. Once you’ve determined the shapes you want, fill the pastry with guava paste (and cream cheese, if you choose).
    – Chefs Note – You don’t want to overfill or underfill.
    – We used two tablespoons for the larger pastelitos and two teaspoons for the smaller ones.
  5. Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash around the perimeter of the puff pastry, then fold over and press the seam together firmly. Seal with a fork.
  6. Egg wash the tops and apply a light sprinkling of sugar before baking.

The results were airy and delicious. Although we prepared sweet pastelitos, they can also be prepared as a savory treat, using different meats or cheeses as the filling. Experiment to see which is your favorite!

Commercial Food Warming Cabinet Best Practices to Use in Kitchen

warming cabinet best practices

Warming cabinets prolong the time you can hold hot and fresh food before serving it. When high-volume demand requires a short window of service time, like school lunches or banquets, preparing ahead and holding the food hot becomes critical. Likewise, operations that serve high food volumes that require longer cooking times, like barbecue joints or quick-service restaurants, need the ability to cook in advance.

As is the case with any tool, there are warming cabinet best practices that will help you take full advantage of your equipment while keeping your staff and customers safe.

Keep it Hot, But Don’t Try to Cook

Warming cabinets are designed to maintain hot food at a specified temperature. But don’t let the name fool you. Food must already be hot before placing it in a warming cabinet. Although the cabinets are heated, operators should not use holding equipment for cooking or retherming. That’s a big no-no for health codes. You risk sickening your customers if you misuse holding equipment to heat food.

Don’t Overshoot the Holding Temperature

Warming cabinets are usually insulated to hold foods above the temperature danger zone for extended periods. Food products must be maintained at or above 141°F to ensure food safety. Some operators set the internal cabinet temperatures about ten degrees higher (or more) than the desired internal food temperature to compensate for door openings and normal heat loss. However, this hack isn’t necessary if the cabinet is well-designed.

For instance, CVap® warming cabinets utilize heated water vapor as the primary heat transfer medium. Water vapor is much more efficient at heat transfer than heated air. This helps CVap cabinets to recover temperature quickly, even with frequent door openings.

On the other hand, operators who try to compensate for inefficient cabinets by setting them at higher temperatures will find that this hack backfires and dries out food. The higher temperatures accelerate the loss of food quality.

Warming Cabinet Best Practices - Preheat, So It’ll Be Safe to Eat

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to preheat holding equipment, whether a cabinet or a drawer. Placing food in a unit that hasn’t preheated will allow the food temperature to drop quickly. Although the food may eventually warm back up, it may have slipped into the temperature danger zone. And rewarming in the warming cabinet isn’t what the cabinets are designed to do.

Humidified cabinets need a little extra time to preheat. They utilize water vapor as a thermal transfer medium. For example, CVap equipment holds about 2.5 gallons of water in its reservoir (or evaporator). That’s a sizeable mass to heat up. A good rule of thumb is to allow approximately 45 minutes for CVap units to preheat fully. This primes them to be ready to hold food at the proper temperature and texture.

Don’t Damage the Stainless

Most holding cabinets are built with stainless steel. Although stainless steel is tough, it doesn’t take kindly to abrasion. Once the surface of stainless steel has been damaged, the steel is subject to corrosion and rust. Don’t use abrasive cleaners or cleaning pads on stainless. Use mild food-grade cleaners and pads recommended by the manufacturer.

Keep Rolling, Carefully

Most warming cabinets are mounted on casters, making them easy to move. Keep an eye on the condition of the casters. Be aware of debris on the floor. A tiny bit of schmutz can cause a wheel to get stuck, making the cabinet harder to move or even tip over if it’s a tall cabinet moving at a good clip. Likewise, if a wheel develops a flat spot, it should be replaced.

When Good Warmers Go Bad

Following warming cabinet best practices is best for maintaining your equipment’s electrical systems. The majority of holding equipment is electrically powered. Should a unit act up, check the power cord to see if it is loose or frayed. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, contact the manufacturer’s customer service department for advice.

If a cabinet is not holding food at the proper temperature, faulty temperature sensors could be the culprit. Check the sensors for debris and clean them if needed. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, contact the manufacturer or a certified technician.

Some manufacturers use thermostats that need periodic calibration. CVap warmers, on the other hand, don’t utilize thermostats and never need calibration.

Misconceptions in Heated Holding

A common misconception is that food cooked to a higher internal temperature will hold longer. This isn’t true. Cooking food to a higher-than-necessary temperature means more moisture evaporates from the food. Moisture loss causes temperature fluctuations and reduces both holding time and food quality.

Of course, if you’re cooking in a CVap oven, moisture loss isn’t a concern. CVap technology allows the operator to dial in the desired food consistency, from crisp to moist.

Some holding cabinets instruct you to open vents to hold crisp foods longer. This isn’t necessary with CVap cabinets. 

Unlike other technologies, CVap allows the operator to control food texture independent of food temperature. Let’s be honest; no food can be held indefinitely. And crisp foods like fried chicken will inherently have shorter hold times (compared to more moist foods). But CVap still offers a more extended quality hold than the competition.

Winston had culinary experts on hand to answer any questions about hot holding. Just fill out our Ask Winston form. We’re happy to help.

Chef Sam’s Award-Winning Rainbow Vegan Chili

vegan chili

Winston’s Chef Samantha Brown loves a good challenge. She is passionate about food and serving people. When she came across a contest sponsored by Campbell’s Foodservice, it was right in her wheelhouse. The contest, Campbell’s Can Do Recipe Contest for Healthcare, challenged entrants to develop new recipes using one of a select variety of Campbell’s Condensed Soup as a key ingredient. Because the contest was specifically aimed at healthcare, ingredients, and nutrition were major factors.

Chef Sam not only entered the contest…SHE WON! Sam’s first-place entry means she’s earned a sweet $2,000 prize.

One might assume that Chef Sam prepared this award-winning dish on a stovetop. But because she is always looking for ways to demonstrate the versatility of our CVap® ovens, she did it all in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven.

Winning the Campbell’s Soup contest has inspired me to keep following my intuition and harnessing my experiences in creating meaningful connections through food,” said Chef Sam. “This Rainbow Vegan Chili is a cold-weather comfort food with a twist that uses plant-based beef, a mélange of veggies, and Campbell’s Classic Tomato Soup to tie it all together. Can you believe I created this recipe in a CVap oven?

CVap® Advantages

CVap@ Cooking and Holding Processes

There are advantages to preparing this chili in a CVap oven. It can be cooked and held in the oven, which allows a much longer serving time. Likewise, you can hold a large quantity without worrying about scorching the pan bottom or reducing too much. The last bowl you serve will be as fresh and hot as the first.

Want to try this recipe? Chef Samantha cooked it all at 200°F Vapor/350°F Air in a CVap oven. But if you don’t have a CVap oven handy, a stovetop will do.

Rainbow Vegan Chili Recipe


  • Plant-Based Beef 48 oz (4-12oz packs)
  • Sweet Onions 4 large (1 ½ quart) – Cleaned and diced.
  • Sweet Peppers 6 large (1 ½ quart) – Cleaned and diced
    (red, yellow, and orange)
  • Carrots 1 ½ pounds
  • Whole Garlic Cloves 3 cups (Cleaned, peeled, and minced)
  • Chili Powder 4 Tablespoons
  • Coriander 1 Tablespoon
  • Cumin 1 Tablespoon
  • Smoked Paprika 1 Tablespoon
  • Chipotle Peppers 4 Tablespoons – Pureed
  • Kidney Beans 62 oz (4 – 15.5 oz cans) – Drained
  • Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes 58 oz (4-14.5 oz cans) – Liquid Drained
  • Petite Dice Tomatoes 58 oz (4-14.5 oz cans)
  • Campbell’s Tomato Soup 70 oz
  • Water 128 oz

The Process

  1. Brown the plant-based beef.
  2. Add onion and peppers to the pan and allow to sweat until onions are translucent and the peppers have softened.
  3. Add minced garlic and carrots to the pan and toss until fragrant.
  4. Add chili powder, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, and pureed chipotle peppers to the pan, and mix thoroughly. Allow to sauté for a few more minutes.
  5. Add drained beans, all the diced tomatoes, tomato soup, and water, mix thoroughly and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  6. Simmer for about an hour.

As you can tell from the ingredient quantities, this recipe is intended to feed a bunch of people. You’ll get about five dozen eight-ounce servings. And while it’s dang tasty, it’s amazingly healthy, with just 128 calories per serving.

Want more chili ideas? Check out Sam’s recipe for Beer Chili!

Ways a Cook and Hold Oven Can Be Cost-Effective for Restaurant Owners

cost-effective commercial oven

CVap® Cook and Hold Ovens can save you a chunk of change. Inflation is putting the hurt on all of us. CVap commercial ovens can help you hold on to some of that hard-earned cash. Read on and reap the benefits.

No Vent Hood, No Problem

CVap Cook and Hold Ovens don’t require vent hoods. That’s not a brag. We did independent testing, and it’s confirmed. CVap ovens’ maximum temperature is 350°F, under the threshold that mandates a hood. But don’t let that low max temperature fool you. CVap uses a dual heat system of dry air heat and moist vapor heat. Together, the two independently controlled heat systems cook food with spot-on precision. Vent hoods cost a ton, both to install and to operate. If you don’t have to have one, that’s a bunch of money that stays in your pocket.

Where Can a Cost-effective Commercial Oven Go?

CVap ovens give you the flexibility to stick’em just about anywhere. They don’t need vent hoods and don’t have to be plumbed to a drain (compare that with a combi oven). You’re ready to roll if you’ve got a place to plug’em in. Speaking of ready-to-roll, CVap Cook and Hold Ovens are built on heavy-duty casters. You can move them across the room or across the building. You can even stack them to save space.

transport kit

Efficiency Out the Wahzoo

CVap stands for “controlled vapor.” That’s hot water vapor. If you’ve ever put your hand near a venting kettle, you know how much punch hot water vapor has. Hot vapor carries tons more heat energy than hot air alone. We say “controlled” because our ovens control the exact vapor temperature. 

It’s similar to sous vide, but CVap doesn’t require bags or vacuum sealing. Thermodynamics being the bitch it is, hot vapor forces food to equalize in temperature with water vapor. That means you don’t have to set the oven hundreds of degrees hotter than your desired final food temperature.

Now, you might think all that water vapor is gonna result in soggy food. Nope. CVap also has hot air circulated by convection fans. Long story short, hot air evaporates water from the food surface before it can make things a soggy mess. Like the hot vapor, CVap lets you control the hot air temperature. Combined, the hot vapor and hot air let you pick the food temperature and surface texture you want. 

Crispy and crunchy? No problem. Moist and tender? Also, no problem. CVap’s lower operating temperature and good old-fashioned thermodynamics mean you’re putting more energy into your food and venting less into your kitchen.

Overnight Cooking is da Bomb

We know good help is hard to find. Use the oven that needs no help. CVap Cook and Hold Ovens are excellent for overnight cooking. Load it up in the evening, hit start, and go home. It will cook unattended through the night and automatically switch to hold mode after the cook cycle. When staff arrives the next day, they’ll find an oven full of food cooked just right, ready to serve. CVap is your third-shift worker that loves to work alone.

Higher Yields = Higher Profits

Since CVap ovens don’t cook at high temperatures, they let food retain its moisture. Cooking low and slow dissolves meat’s connective tissue. That means the collagen shrink that occurs at higher temperatures doesn’t happen. Less shrink equals higher yield. And higher yield means more servings per cut. Add up those extra servings over time, and you’re looking at a significant improvement in your bottom line. Meats cooked in CVap ovens are noticeably better consistency. CVap cooks uniformly, end to end and top to bottom, with no burned edges or bullseye. It’s juicy and cut-with-a-fork tender: better food, yield, and bottom line.

beef roast recipe

Staging for Success

Imagine serving a burger that ordinarily takes eight minutes to cook in just two minutes. It’s possible if you stage ahead of time. This involves using CVap to cook food under the desired doneness temperature and holding it there. When an order arrives, the food is pulled from the oven and finished on the grill or skillet. The customer gets a fresh, hot, cooked-to-order meal in a fraction of the time it takes to cook from raw. This process will blow your socks off. Turn tables faster and sell more products!

Delayed Start

Preheating a CVap Cook and Hold Oven takes about 45 minutes. But you don’t have to wait around for it. Use the Delay Start and have that sucker ready when you walk through the door. You can program the oven to start up to 99 hours ahead of time.

Touch Screen

Good Help is Hard to Find

cost-effective commercial oven

Labor is a pain point for everybody. Hiring is a bitch. And finding skilled people is an even bigger bitch. CVap Cook and Hold Ovens can ease your labor pains. An automatic hold feature kicks in after the oven’s cook cycle. This means food holds at the desired temperature without drying out or overcooking. You’re free to do other stuff – no need to babysit the oven and no need to move cooked food to a holding cabinet. Wireless programming makes setting your oven as simple as tapping an Android phone near the oven’s NFC sensor (Series 7). Settings can be loaded so that all your staff needs to do is press start. And settings can be locked, so nobody accidentally (or maybe not accidentally) changes the settings.

Consistent Quality

CVap Cook and Hold Ovens produce reliable, repeatable results. If your customer has a favorite meal, she wants it to be just as good every time she orders it. CVap makes that happen. No matter who is running the kitchen, CVap delivers the same precise results. Happy customers are repeat customers.

cost-effective commercial oven

It Can Do What?

Kitchen equipment that only does one thing can be a waste of space. But a tool that can handle many things has earned its keep. CVap Cook and Hold Ovens are a jack of all kitchen trades. Sure, it’s an oven. But it’s also a proofer, a steamer, a roaster, a holding cabinet, and even a sous vide circulator (well, that last one’s a bit of a stretch – it’s excellent for sous vide, but there’s no circulating involved). All that in a small footprint. It’s your own personal Inspector Gadget in the kitchen.

Want to learn more? Contact us today!

Ten Facts about Commercial Pressure Fryers

Winston and the Colonel, about 1969

Commercial pressure fryers have been around for decades. Colonel Harland Sanders was the catalyst behind the development of commercial pressure fryers. Among his favorite cookers was the Collectramatic®, designed by Winston’s founder, Winston Shelton. Shelton perfected the early fryer designs of the 60s, creating the fryer that the Colonel preferred. Over 50 years later, the Collectramatic brand is still going strong. 

Here are some interesting facts about pressure fryers.


Tough Old Birds

When fried chicken first became popular as a fast food, the poultry industry wasn’t what it is today. Back then, chickens took nearly twice as long to grow to maturity. That extra time meant they built up a lot of collagen and connective tissue, making the meat tougher. Because pressure frying raises the boiling temperature of the water, it helps the chicken’s internal moisture to break down that tissue, tenderizing the meat.

Fast forward to today. Poultry matures in about half the time as in the 50s and 60s. The high pressure and temperatures needed to cook the old birds are no longer needed. Since the birds are not as tough, cookers can use a lower pressure to get the same tender results. Being able to cook at lower pressures and temperatures reduces energy consumption and makes for a safer kitchen. Lowering the cooking temperature also extends the cooking oil’s life, helping operations be more profitable. 


Put a Lid on It!

The lid on a pressure fryer seals the cooking vessel, allowing pressure to build. This is critical because once pressure builds, it raises the boiling point of water. Raw chicken, by its nature, is a pretty moist product. The chicken itself provides the steam generated during cooking. As pressure rises, less of the chicken’s moisture is lost, and it cooks faster. The end product is more tender and juicier than open-fried chicken.

There’s also a balance of pressure going on inside the pressure fryer. The pressurized cook pot forces hot oil at the surface of the food. But moisture within the food is also trying to expand as it cooks, creating an opposing pressure. The effect is two-fold. The food’s internal pressure balances the external pressure. This speeds up cooking and prevents the food from soaking up much excess oil.


It's Not Just for Bone-in Chicken

While it is true that the vast majority of product cooked in pressure fryers is bone-in chicken, that’s not the only food that can be cooked in them. Boneless items like chicken filets, tenders, and nuggets are also excellent when cooked in a pressure fryer. And pressure fryers aren’t limited to chicken. Proteins with natural juices like steaks, ribs, and pig’s wings can be pressure fried. Potato wedges are also the bomb when pressure fried.


Pressure Fryers Can Do Double-duty

Many pressure fryers are only capable of pressure frying. However, Collectramatic pressure fryers can both pressure fry and open fry. Open frying is as easy as leaving the lid up. Certain foods produce better results when open-fried. These tend to be foods with heavier breading or more delicate foods like fish, shrimp, or french fries.

Being able to both pressure fry and open fry in the same unit is beneficial for operations with tight space constraints. It offers the best of both worlds.  


Pressure Frying Extends Oil Life

You might think that pressure and open fryers consume equitable amounts of oil. But pressure fryers are more frugal with their oil. It’s because of oil’s chemistry.

There are three culprits when oil breaks down – heat, air, and moisture. Pressure frying helps with all three. Pressure fryers cook at a lower temperature, which helps prevent scorching. Having the lid down and the fryer under pressure minimizes the contact between the air and the oil, reducing the oil’s oxidation. And because pressure frying seals most of the food’s moisture inside the food, it cuts down on the degradation of oil by water contamination.

easy holding chicken


Pressure Frying Makes Food Less Greasy

Any time you use oil as a cooking medium, there is a potential for greasiness. But if cooked properly, pressure-fried food isn’t greasy. This can be minimized by managing the temperature of your cooking oil.

Most operators use a stair-step approach to oil temperatures. Food starts in the fryer at a higher temperature, which generates steam (and pressure), and helps the breading set on the food. Next, the oil temperature is dropped so that the food can cook thoroughly without burning the breading. This temperature management will minimize the amount of oil that is allowed to soak into the food. Because moisture is sealed within the food, it emerges juicy, not greasy.

While food that has been open-fried can be crispy, the higher amount of oil that can soak into the food while it’s cooking means that this food will lose its crispiness after a short time, making it unsaleable.


Round Fry Pots are Naturally Better

Fry pots come in two basic shapes: round and rectangular. For a variety of reasons, round pots are the better option. Round pots allow the entire cooking vessel to be encircled with heating elements. This facilitates even heat distribution and better oil circulation. 

Round pots are inherently more durable. A round vessel only requires one weld seam. Seams are naturally the weakest point in the pot wall. While actual seam failures are rare, they can happen. It’s the reason most manufacturers place a limit on a pressure fryer’s helpful lifetime. Collectramatic round pots have operated in restaurants for up to 25 years. Rectangular pots require multiple seams, increasing the odds of future problems. Round pots just last longer.


Mo' Pressure, Mo' Flavor

Pressure frying naturally imparts better flavor to food. As mentioned previously, open frying can transfer the oil’s flavor to the food, overpowering the food’s natural flavors. In contrast, pressure frying seals in the food’s natural flavors and prevents excess oil intake. This results in better flavor and allows the food to lock in moisture.


Consistently Good

Consistency is critical in commercial kitchens. Your customer expects the same high quality every time they visit your operation. Pressure fryers make that possible. The sealed environment of a pressurized fryer allows you to cook at the exact pressure and temperature you want. Computerized controls remove all the guesswork. 

In contrast, open fryers are subject to variations in their environment (ambient temperature, barometric pressure, etc.) that can have a negative effect on the fryer. Consistency is much easier to achieve under pressure.

FACT #10

Keeping Costs in Check

Pressure fryers are simply more efficient than open fryers. They use less oil and make that oil last longer. They have shorter cooking cycles, which saves electricity. And chicken cooked in a pressure fryer stays fresh longer, which reduces waste. Pressure fryers are an all-around win-win.  

Want to know more about pressure fryers? Fill out our contact form, and we’ll be glad to talk to you about your needs and how Collectramatic fryers can be the answer to the challenges you’re facing. 

Essential Commercial Kitchen Equipment Needed for Chicken Recipes

chicken recipes

Chicken is a ubiquitous protein. The average American consumes over 100 pounds annually. In an increasingly health-conscious world, chicken is considered healthier than most red meat. If you’re a foodservice operator (or planning to be), you should consider expanding chicken options on your menu. Chicken is nutrient-dense, relatively inexpensive (at the moment), and can be prepared in many ways.

The equipment you’ll need to prepare the chicken depends on what kind of chicken you plan to serve. Operators should consider three categories of equipment when expanding their chicken offerings: fryers, ovens, and holding cabinets.


When we think chicken, most of us probably think first of fried chicken. It’s a large share of the fast food market. In an industry survey, eight of the top 50 restaurants in the United States are fried chicken concepts.

If you anticipate offering fried chicken, you’ll obviously need a fryer. Pressure fryers are a great option. There are multiple advantages to using pressure fryers. They cook faster and more consistently than open fryers. Cooking oil lasts much longer. And customers often prefer the taste and texture of chicken prepared in a pressure fryer, according to some fast food operators.

chicken recipes

 Pressure frying is ideal for breaded bone-in chicken, wings, filets, or tenders with traditional breading. Winston’s Collectramatic® pressure fryers check off all the boxes. They are highly efficient, available in 4-head and 6-head capacities, and have minimal moving parts. They are true workhorses with decades-long lifespans.

Any Winston pressure fryer can also be used as an open fryer by simply removing the lid. An open fryer may be your best option if you primarily serve more delicate or super crispy foods, such as fish, seafood, double-breaded chicken, fries, onion rings, etc. Your specific menu will determine the best choice. Of course, the Winston team will be happy to advise you on your decision.

Commercial fryers are available with either gas or electric power. Your local energy infrastructure will determine which is a better option for you. However, Winston’s Collectramatic Fryer line is only available as electric.

Whatever type of fryer you choose, you’ll need to filter your cooking oil periodically. Some fryers have the filter integrated into the fryer itself. Winston offers a stand-alone shortening filter. The advantage of this is that a single filter can be used to service multiple fryers. The Winston filter is easy to move and has a low profile to make it easy to store out of the way when not in use.

Cook and Hold Ovens

Of course, fried chicken isn’t the only chicken consumers crave. Chicken lends itself to various preparation methods, such as sous vide, roasted, poached, baked, grilled, and more. It can be the main entrée or the base of a delicious stock – the possibilities are almost endless. Fortunately, so are the applications you can accomplish in a CVap oven!

CVap ovens use controlled vapor heat and dry air heat to create the ideal cooking environment for almost any type of food. CVap can replace most of the cooking equipment in your operation. Importantly, CVap ovens allow you to scale up your production. Capacities of up to 14 shelves allow for high production in a small footprint. Imagine trying to match that production scale with immersion circulators, woks, or kettles.

CVap@ Cooking and Holding Processes

Do you serve barbecue? You can add the Winston Smoker Box accessory to your CVap oven to convert it into a traditional smoker. Bear in mind that once you add a smoker to a CVap oven it will no longer be a ventless oven and will either need to be under a hood or rolled to a safe outdoor spot. 

Staging chicken is another great application in CVap.  Simply put, staging is cooking food to a temperature just below the serving temperature and holding it there. When an order comes in, the food can be pulled from the oven, finished on a grill or skillet, and served to the customer in a fraction of the time it would take to cook from raw. This is an effective process no matter what your center plate protein is, but it’s particularly powerful in a chicken program.

Winston Smoker Box
Holding in CVap

CVap technology was initially developed for holding cabinets. Of course, the technology has evolved as an incredibly precise cooking technology. Hot holding continues to be a critical process in most kitchens.

CVap ovens can do double duty as holding cabinets. This prevents food from overcooking and frees staff from constantly monitoring the oven. It also makes it possible to cook overnight, removing the need for staff altogether. Holding serves a double function. It maintains product quality over time, improving service and reducing waste. It also improves efficiency by keeping the high-quality product at hand and accessible.

CVap Holding Cabinets offer the same incredible precision as CVap ovens. CVap cabinets are also a perfect partner for fryers. For example, fried chicken can be held in the cabinets for extended periods, making it possible to build up inventory for rush periods. CVap cabinets offer a superior hold by keeping chicken crisp without making it soggy or drying out, especially when compared to chicken in lower-tech holding appliances, such as heat lamps or dry, hot boxes.

Holding isn’t limited to fried chicken. CVap cabinets are also great for holding more succulent dishes. They can simultaneously hold sides, such as mashed potatoes or mac & cheese, with the same precise hot hold.

chicken recipes
Poultry in a Post-Pandemic World

According to poultry industry reports, consumers have fundamentally changed their habits, compared to the pre-COVID-19 world. Consumers are spending more now, to regain opportunities they missed during the pandemic. Experts recommend that chicken brands should position themselves as a splurge, rather than highlight chicken as the value protein, to attract these consumers.

The report went on to say that brand loyalty took a hit during the pandemic. This may provide an opportunity for other chicken concepts to charm customers away from the more established operations. Perhaps there’s never been a better time to expand your chicken offerings. Contact us to discuss how Winston can help your operation take advantage of the changes in chicken.

School Recipes – Tater Tots


Ore-Ida Golden Tater Tots, or equivalent frozen product


Retherm (RTV)
Cook Time: 50-60 Minutes
Vapor Temp: 160°F (71°C)
Air Temp: 350°F (177°C)

Holding Program (CVap Oven, Holding Cabinet, or Drawer)
Holding Time: Up to 2 Hours
Vapor Temp: 150°F (66°C)
Air Temp: 180°F (82°C)

  1. Preheat CVap® Oven.
  2. Spread out 4 to 5 lbs. of frozen tots in a single layer onto a sprayed perforated sheet pan.

  3. Place the pan into the oven.
    Press ENTER.

  4. Remove from oven once the program is complete.

  5. Use a straight spatula to remove tots from the pan. Serve immediately, or transfer tots to another pan for hot holding.

Chef’s Tips

*Preparation in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven (CHV) is not recommended.