AndyTalk: Five Most Common Kitchen Mistakes, #5 Microwave Misuse
See also: AndyTalk: How to melt Chocolate
See also: AndyTalk: Garlic and Gadgetry
When my family got its first microwave, I'd come home from school and make myself rubbery faux enchiladas almost every day. I was more enchanted with the process than the product. In culinary school, there was no microwave. Despite this lack, I had a chef who said that if Escoffier (the man who modernized French cooking and restaurant kitchens) were alive, he'd approve of using a microwave if/when it did not lower the quality of the food.
When it comes to microwave cooking, please don't:
- Cook or heat pasta, bread, or baked goods. Microwaves suck the water out of these things and make them chewy and dry.
- Make stews, or other recipes that are traditionally long-cooking. Tough meat cuts need a long time to become fork-tender.
- Reheat pizza (better cold than rubbery)
- Cook anything really big -- roasts, chickens, etc.
Iffy microwave uses:
- Defrosting (better overnight in the refrigerator),
- Cooking bacon -- it works if you use a lot of paper towels and have the patience to rotate the bacon within the pan several times.
- Reheating leftovers (if you actually follow the manufacturer's instructions)
Best ways to use a microwave:
- Melting butter
- Cooking onions until translucent (+/- garlic)
- Melting chocolate (if you do it on the defrost cycle so it doesn't burn).
- Make a well. Microwaves cook from the outside in -- so more food around the perimeter of the plate and less in the center means more even heating.
- Cover the food and keep it moist. I use a wet paper towel and/or a plate
- Melt the butter in the wax paper it comes in. Place it in Pyrex cup -- with the seam aimed down. The butter melts and flows to the bottom of the cup. The paper keeps the butter from splashing the inside of your microwave.