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MICROWAVE

Doubling a Recipe Increases Chance for Failure

April 19, 1990|JEAN ANDERSON and ELAINE HANNA

Why do so many people try to double or halve microwave recipes, usually without ever having tried the recipes as written? They're just begging for trouble.

The truth is, scaling recipes up or down isn't a snap with old-fashioned recipes because all recipes--whether developed for the microwave or more conventional methods of cooking--are precise chemical formulas. Add a little too much of this or too little of that or fool around with the cooking times, and you've only yourself to blame if the recipe flops.

When it comes to successful microwaving, the best advice we can offer is this: Never double--or for that matter, halve--recipe ingredients unless the recipe includes specific instructions for doing so. The quantities called for in a recipe, the container size, the method, microwave powers and times have all been carefully worked out. Tamper with any one of them--and particularly with the quantity of food--and you are courting disaster.

This said, we offer recipes for which we have worked out larger and smaller yields. In each instance, follow the directions to the letter. Only then can you expect optimum results.

CHICKEN BREASTS MOZZARELLA

6 boned and skinned chicken breast halves (about 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed of fat

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 cups bottled marinara sauce

1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded mozzarella cheese

Dredge chicken in flour mixed with salt and pepper. Brown 2 minutes on each side in oil and butter in large heavy skillet placed over moderate heat. Drain on paper towels.

Spoon marinara sauce evenly over bottom of 13x9-inch oval glass ovenware casserole. Arrange chicken on top with thickest parts toward outside. (Recipe may be prepared to this point, then covered and refrigerated until about 20 minutes before serving. Increase microwave time 2 minutes for refrigerator-cold casserole.)

Cover casserole with wax paper and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 6 to 8 minutes, rotating 180 degrees at half time, until chicken is tender. Sprinkle chicken evenly with cheese and microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 2 minutes until cheese melts. Or to brown cheese, place dish 3 to 4 inches from heat in broiler 2 to 3 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Variations:

For 4 servings, brown 4 chicken breast halves as directed using 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Reduce quantity of sauce to 1 1/2 cups, microwave time to 4 to 6 minutes, and cheese to 1 cup. Recipe may be prepared, start to finish, in 10-inch glass ceramic casserole.

For 2 servings, brown 2 chicken breast halves as directed using 2 teaspoons oil and 2 teaspoons butter. Reduce quantity of sauce to 3/4 cup, microwave time to 2 to 3 minutes, and cheese to 1/2 cup. Recipe may be prepared in 1 1/2-quart casserole.

SALMON FILLETS EN PAPILLOTE WITH TOASTED ALMOND SAUCE

4 small salmon fillets, cut 1/2-inch thick

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup very finely minced toasted blanched almonds

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons minced chives

Dash paprika

Dash salt

Center each fillet on double thickness of 17x12-inch wax paper. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Unless fillets taper sharply, do not tuck ends underneath.

Wrap fillets in wax paper, drugstore-style and arrange, not touching, on microwave-safe round or oval platter. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 4 to 5 minutes, rearranging at half time.

Test for doneness after 4 minutes. Salmon should just flake at touch of fork. If not, rewrap and microwave in 30-second increments, testing after each to avoid overcooking.

Combine almonds, cream, chives, paprika and salt in microwave-safe 1-pint measure. Cover with wax paper and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 1 3/4 to 2 minutes, stirring at half time, until hot, not boiling.

Partially unwrap salmon, top with sauce, dividing evenly, rewrap and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Variations:

For 2 servings, wrap 2 salmon fillets (5 to 5 1/2 ounces each) in wax paper and microwave as directed 2 3/4 to 3 minutes. Halve sauce ingredients and microwave as directed, reducing microwave time to 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Unwrap salmon and top with sauce.

For 1 serving, wrap 1 salmon fillet (5 to 5 1/2 ounces) in wax paper and microwave as directed 2 to 2 1/4 minutes. For sauce, microwave 1 tablespoon minced toasted almonds, 2 tablespoons whipping cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons minced chives and dash paprika and salt in wax-paper-covered custard cup on MEDIUM 50 to 60 seconds. Unwrap salmon and top with sauce.

Note: In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking times about 15%.

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