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AndyTalk: Five Most Common Kitchen Mistakes, #5 Microwave Misuse

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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).

Tips:

  • 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.

Now -- just don't tell everyone that I said it was okay to nuke your dinner.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

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