Braising pans are essentially griddles with watertight sides that tilt for easy draining. Foodservice operators can use these units as griddles, but braising pans can perform a variety of other tasks, including boiling, sauteing, steaming and braising. One of the newest innovations is a pressurized braising pan, which works like a steamer for high production in a short amount of time. Since these units can accommodate almost any cooking need, having one is akin to having a kitchen full of different types of cooking units.

John Marenic, principal at Charlotte, N.C.-based Marenic Food Service Consultants, provides insight on key factors to keep in mind when purchasing a braising pan.

Operators should consider a number of factors when purchasing a braising pan, but most important are size, whether tilting is necessary and how the operation will use it. Consider the menu and production times since this equipment may cook different items simultaneously.

Braising pans require proper ventilation since these units have the potential to produce grease-laden vapor.

Locate braising pans near a faucet that provides both hot and cold water for both cooking and cleaning.

Have the correct size drain trough in the right location for use with these units. Failing to do so represents a common mistake. If the drain is in the wrong spot, any spills will end up on the floor, creating a slip hazard. We recommend operators specify a wider trough than is needed — a 12-inch instead of a 6-inch, for example. Even pans with a lip should have a wider trough that extends the width of the unit.

Some operators prefer braising pan lids to remove completely, while others like hinged lids for steaming. There also are different lid mechanisms available that act like vents and release moisture and steam from the pan.

For those who prefer not to keep opening the lid and watching product constantly, temperature sensors and timers are available.