Once you learn how easy it is to microwave-cook a whole chicken, you need never be without a supply of tender meat to use in quick dishes.
To microwave-cook chicken: Remove the giblets and the neck from the cavity. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water. Place in a deep microwave-safe dish just large enough to hold the chicken (an oven glass loaf dish or an oval casserole dish with a cover). Place the neck and the giblets beside the chicken. Add a handful of diced scrappy celery pieces and leaves, a minced onion and a teaspoon or two of chicken bouillon granules or chicken soup base. Add water to about half the depth of the chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover with a casserole lid or slightly vented plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH 7 minutes per pound, a total of about 21 minutes for a 3-pound chicken. Halfway through the cooking time, turn over the chicken (it doesn't matter whether you start it breast up or back up). Take out the liver at this time. Re-cover and continue cooking.
Test for tenderness with a sharp fork. Let stand, covered with a dish lid or with foil pressed down closely over the dish, for 15 minutes. Strain the broth and refrigerate it, uncovered, until cool, then cover. Partially cool the chicken, then refrigerate it wrapped in foil. Use this chicken and broth in any chicken dish, or for sandwiches or salads.
Here are two of our favorite dishes. The first is from Janet Sadlack's "Favorite Dishes From Microwave Times," Volume 2 (Microwave Times: $8.95). The second is adapted from Thelma Pressman's "The Art of Microwave Cooking" (Contemporary Books: $8.95).
CHICKEN AND CANTONESE VEGETABLES
1 (10-ounce) package frozen Chinese- or Japanese-style vegetables
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules or chicken stock base
1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
Place frozen vegetables with sauce or flavoring packet in 1 1/2 quart casserole with cover. Stir together water, soy sauce, cornstarch and chicken bouillon granules. Add to vegetables. Microwave on HIGH, covered, about 4 minutes, stirring once. Stir in diced chicken. Microwave on HIGH, covered, 2 or 3 minutes, or until hot, stirring once. Makes 2 to 3 servings.
SHERRIED CHICKEN FLORENTINE
1 slice bread
2 tablespoons butter
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/4 cups diced cooked chicken
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons dry Sherry
Place bread in blender or food processor container and process until crumbled. Mix with 1 tablespoon melted butter in small glass measuring cup. Microwave on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes, stirring once, until crumbs begin to brown. Set aside.
Place opened package spinach in oven and microwave on HIGH about 4 minutes or until softened. Turn into strainer and press out liquid.
Place onion and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in 8-inch round, flat bottom casserole or quiche dish and microwave on HIGH 2 minutes. Add spinach, mixing well with fork. Make sure that mixture is spread evenly in dish. Top with chicken.
Combine half of soup, cheese and Sherry in glass measure, reserving remaining soup for other use. Microwave on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once. Stir again until cheese is melted. Pour sauce over chicken. Top with crumbs and sprinkle with paprika. Microwave on HIGH, uncovered, 7 to 8 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before serving. Makes 2 to 3 servings.