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Microwave . . .

Take Curl Out of Cooked Bacon

March 19, 1987|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

It always has been interesting to me that bacon cooks very quickly alone in the microwave but tends to surrender cooking energy when cooked with other foods. To cook a couple of strips of bacon, place them on a paper towel or bacon rack, cover with a paper towel and cook on HIGH power for 1 1/2 to two minutes. The bacon will be crisp and fragrant, and--a microwave plus--it will be attractively flat. It's hard to make a neat bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with curly bacon.

When making the bacon-wrapped appetizers that follow, however, it will be necessary to precook the bacon until almost crisp before wrapping it around a filling. This is done because the fillings are very moist and juicy and cook more quickly than the bacon.

Small appetizers take special microwave attention. When spaced apart, the pieces are surrounded by microwave energy from every angle. The energy penetrates to the insides, concentrating inside the appetizers. This is the opposite of traditional broiling.

Various Bacon Racks

Bacon microwaves particularly well on a bacon rack. There are many kinds of bacon racks. One is a rimmed flat plate with ridges that elevate the bacon from the grease. Another type is a perforated platform on legs, which allows the bacon grease to drip onto a pan below. The flat solid plate is easiest to clean and doesn't require a second drip pan.

Rearranging bacon part way through microwaving is often helpful when bacon seems to be cooking unevenly. A microwave bacon rack is needed for this recipe.

MICROWAVED BACON WITH BROWN SUGAR AND MUSTARD

4 strips bacon

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

Arrange bacon in single layer on microwave bacon rack. In small bowl or cup, blend brown sugar and dry mustard with fingers until mixed.

Sprinkle about half of mixture sparingly over bacon. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until bacon is about half cooked. Turn each piece over and rearrange bacon so inside pieces, which will probably be least cooked, are toward edges of rack. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar mixture. Microwave on HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer until bacon is done. Makes 4 slices.

You can assemble these appetizers several hours ahead of time and keep in a bowl in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Remember to arrange these in a circle. A dozen rumaki microwave in about five to seven minutes. If you run out of liver pieces, wrap the rest of the pineapple chunks with bacon and microwave those, too.

PINEAPPLE RUMAKI (BACON-WRAPPED CHICKEN LIVER AND PINEAPPLE APPETIZERS)

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice

1 pound fresh chicken livers

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon (about 40 slices)

Drain pineapple very well, reserving juice for another purpose. Trim livers and cut each in half. If some halves are too large, cut each in half again. You should have about 30 pieces of liver. Arrange drained pineapple and liver pieces on large tray or board in single layer.

In small cup or bowl, mix brown sugar, cloves and mustard, using fingers. Sprinkle mixture evenly over pineapple and livers and let stand.

Meanwhile, on microwave bacon rack, place 6 to 8 strips bacon at a time in single layer. Cover with paper towel. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) about 30 seconds per strip, about 3 to 4 minutes total, until strips are beginning to look slightly brown and are losing translucence, but are not crisp. If necessary, rotate rack half-turn after 1 1/2 minutes, or rearrange strips for most even cooking. Repeat until all bacon is partially cooked. Drain grease as needed.

When bacon is cool enough to handle, place 1 pineapple chunk and 1 liver piece at 1 end of bacon strip and roll to enclose in bacon. With wood pick, firmly skewer roll, catching exposed end of bacon slice, pineapple and liver piece.

Arrange about 12 rumaki in circle on microwave trivet and cover with paper towels. Microwave on HIGH 5 to 7 minutes. Larger rolls might need additional few seconds. Repeat until all rumaki are cooked. Serve hot. Makes about 40 pieces.

Note : Before precooking bacon, soften by placing unopened package in microwave on HIGH (100% power) 30 seconds to 1 minute. Strips will separate easily.

Use technique of layering bacon slices between pieces of paper towels to cook several strips at once. Paper towels that are not super absorbent may work best. Thin paper towels tend to leave a little grease on surface of paper, which sometimes helps prevent bacon from sticking.

BACON BURGERS

8 strips bacon

1 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 thin slices onion

4 thin slices tomato

4 buttered hamburger buns, optional

Arrange 4 strips bacon on paper towel-lined plate or microwave bacon rack. Cover layer with paper towel, then arrange remaining 4 strips bacon on top. Cover with another paper towel. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 3 to 4 minutes, just until partially cooked.

Divide ground beef into 8 equal parts and shape each into thin patty. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place 1 slice onion and tomato over each of 4 patties, then cover with remaining 4 patties. Press edges to seal well.

Wrap 2 partially cooked bacon slices around each patty to encircle edges. Fasten with wood pick. Place patties in 8-inch square dish. Cover with wax paper. Microwave on HIGH 7 to 10 minutes, rotating dish half-turn, if necessary, after 4 minutes. Serve on buttered hamburger buns. Makes 4 servings.

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