"Open the Door!"
"Open the Door!"
"Open the Door!"
To which he shook his head violently, too scared of what might issue forth from the smoking microwave. I ran around the island and threw open the door, causing the smoke alarms to go off, and he and I fled the kitchen with thick gray smoke in pursuit.
Later, after the kitchen had cleared, I went back and looked at the offending roll. Strangely, after being microwaved for nearly three minutes - a rather long time for a small roll - it looked pretty normal on the outside, with only one narrow gray streak (the photos below are my re-creation of this memorable event). However when I cut it open in the name of kitchen science, I found a solid black mass that looked exactly like Hawaiian lava, covered in a thin coating of a bread-like substance. My son did not microwave rolls again.
Most restaurants do not have microwaves. Those that do, refer to the microwave as "Chef Mike". It is not a complimentary term.
Microwaving cooks unevenly. Have you ever noticed that a plate of leftovers is much warmer on the outside of the plate than at the center? By the time the inside is cooked, the outside is tough and dry.
Microwaving gives the meet a strange, stale flavor and a rubbery texture. If you taste-test leftovers re-heated on the stove vs. in the microwave, you will usually notice a big difference.
Finally, microwaving will never brown meat, because of course it only cooks the water in the food. You can steam food all day in a microwave, but create the lovely crust which gives meat extra savory flavor? Not going to happen.
There are a few exceptions to the "don't microwave meat" rule however.
Microwaving meaty soups, stews and other dishes with a LOT of liquid is generally OK. Watch out for such foods with pasta though; the pasta - like bread - can become quite tough.
If you want to reheat leftovers and don't have time to cover and bake them, arrange the food on a plate:
1. If heating meat and a starch, put the meat in the middle of your plate or bowl and cover it with the starch. Cover the whole thing with another plate and microwave until the underside of the bottom plate is warm or hot.
2. If heating only meat, put the thickest part of the meat to the outside of the dish; imagine four chicken drumsticks with the bones in the middle and the meaty parts to the outside. Cook on 50% power until done, rotating or flipping meat at least once.
Let me be clear here - there are many ways to cook, and microwaving meat might work really well for you. If it works, keep doing it! And if you do have a truly delicious recipe that includes meat prepared in the microwave, please comment and share; I'm happy to be proven wrong in the name of food that tastes great. But if you've been thinking there might be better ways to cook meat, perhaps it's time to try them.
Finally, if you've read this far, I want to share a recipe I've rescued from the microwave: buffalo chicken dip. For this absolutely tasty and heinously unhealthy recipe, click here. Your friends and family will thank you - as soon as their food coma lifts.
And please, please, please....don't microwave fish or seafood...unless exacting revenge on some ill-behaving officemates. And if you do so, don't eat it. Just leave it in the microwave, unclaimed, until the parties involved have been sufficiently disgusted by the smell. Then sneak quietly away.