Picture the scene: you come home from a long day at work, your favourite television show is on later and you just don’t want to cook, especially something that is going to take time. You just want the food! Rather than using a microwave to simply heat up meals (a savior when you find those leftovers at the back of the fridge), you can use microwave cooking utensils to make delicious microwave dishes from soups to starters, desserts to main courses – using meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese and even rice and pasta! Annette Yates has provided a book full of 120 tasty microwave recipes which are easy to follow – and even include recipes for one. You may be dining alone, but boy will you be doing it in style!
Thawing meat in the microwave safely
Meat and poultry can be thawed and cooked in a microwave oven, particularly bacon rashes and joints, whole poultry and pieces, as well as minced meat, or cubes of beef, pork or lamb. The results may be down to personal preference, but this way will take up much less time and is the perfect combination for something taken straight from the freezer or for someone who doesn’t have much time.
* Remove any metal packaging.
* Stand the meat or poultry on a microwavable plate.
* Thaw on defrost or medium low on your dial.
* Remember that all meats and poultry are different shapes and size, so the timings may vary.
* Items that are stuck together like bacon rashes, sausages or steaks, separate apart once they start to thaw.
* Turn the larger meats and poultry over at least once when thawing.
* As the meat thaws, pour away any liquid that starts to produce.
* As areas on the meat and poultry begin to warm up, stop thawing and allow to stand for 20 minutes before starting again.
* All foods need to stand after thawing and before food is cooked – smaller pieces for at least 20 minutes and larger pieces like whole poultries for at least 30 minutes.
Cooking meat in the microwave safely
Any meat can be cooked in a microwave oven, as long as it has been completely defrosted before hand. This can be done following the instructions above. Joints and whole poultry are usually cooked on high, but for those covered in liquid, they can be brought to the boil on high, then cooked on the medium setting.
* Be aware of timings as regular shapes such as a boned joint cooks more evenly than something like a leg joint.
* Meat on the bone cooks a lot more quickly than meat off the bone, so again, be aware of timings.
* Secure large items with string or wooden skewers.
* Once the meat is cooked, season with salt to prevent the sauce from drying out and shrinking.
* Put larger meats like joints on a roasting rack, so they do not sit in their own juices whilst cooking.
* When cooking chops and sausages, a browning dish is useful.
* Smaller pieces of meats like chicken drumsticks or chops should be arranged so the thinner end is facing the centre of the microwave dish.
* Small evenly shaped pieces, like meatballs, should be arranged around the edge of the dish.
* To prevent the oven walls from being splashed with juices, to cook evenly and to keep moisture in, cover all meats and poultry.
* All meats and poultry should be turned at least once during the cooking process.
* Check meats and poultry are cooked by making sure juices run clear, or use a meat thermometer to check the centre of the meat.
* Allow meat and poultry to stand for 15 – 20 minutes after cooking to allow the temperature to even out and make carving easier.
For loads of great microwave recipes, read: Microwave Cooking Properly Explained: With Over 120 Tasty Recipes (Robinson) by Annette Yates.