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A Beginner's Guide to Microwaves

July 05, 1991|MARCIA CONE and THELMA SNYDER | Cone and Snyder are the authors of five microwave cookbooks. and

One of the first things that a microwave owner learns to do is reheat. But even that takes a bit of know-how. Those who put a dish of something into the microwave and cook for two minutes, no matter what it is, may be in for a shock when the bread turns hard and the meat becomes tough.

Different foods call for different methods. Because reheating varies according to the type, amount and starting temperature of the food (room-temperature, refrigerated or frozen), foods are divided into various categories. And since ovens vary in cooking strength (wattage), cooking times are a guideline, but the real test is how hot the food gets according to one of two tests:

Warm to the Touch: This applies to breads only. It is slightly warmer than the sensation of warmed baby's milk on your wrist, but it is to be felt with your fingers.

Mississippi Rule: This is the measure of time that your hand can be held on the bottom or top of a hot, covered plate or casserole. Count it out in "one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi." Each is basically the measure of a second. You should be able to hold your hand on the dish for the count indicated and no longer, because the heat of the dish will force you to pull your hand away.

Stirrable Refrigerated Mixtures--Casseroles, Soups, Chilis:

1 cup -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH (100% power) 2 minutes, or until sides are 2 Mississippi. Stir. HIGH 1 minute or until hottest surface, bottom or top, is 3 Mississippi.

2 cups -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH 3 minutes or until sides are 2 Mississippi. Stir. Cover again. HIGH 1 minute, or until hottest surface is 3 Mississippi.

4 cups -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH 5 minutes or until sides are 2 Mississippi. Stir. Cover again. HIGH 1 to 3 minutes or until hottest surface (bottom or top) is 3 Mississippi.

6 to 8 cups-- Cover tightly. HIGH 5 minutes or until sides are 2 Mississippi. Stir. Cover again. HIGH 4 to 6 minutes or until hottest surface is 3 Mississippi.

Frozen Stirrable Dishes--Casseroles, Soups, Chilis:

These should be removed from freezing containers, after partial thawing, to casseroles where stirring is easier and thus reheating better.

2 cups -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes, then MEDIUM (50% power) 5 minutes. Stir and remove from plastic container to casserole. Cover again. HIGH 3 minutes or until sides are 2 Mississippi. Stir. Cover again. HIGH 4 minutes or until hottest surface (top or bottom) is 3 Mississippi.

4 cups -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH 5 minutes, then MEDIUM 5 minutes. Stir and remove to casserole. Cover again. HIGH 5 minutes, or until sides are 2 Mississippi. Stir. Cover again. HIGH 3 to 7 minutes, or until hottest surface (top or bottom) is 3 Mississippi, stirring every 5 minutes.

6 to 8 cups -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH 5 minutes, then MEDIUM 10 to 15 minutes. Stir and remove to casserole. Cover again. HIGH 5 minutes or until sides are 2 Mississippi. Stir. HIGH 15 to 20 minutes or until top or bottom is 3 Mississippi, stirring every 5 minutes.

Refrigerated Layered Casseroles That Can't Be Stirred:

1-quart rectangular -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes, then MEDIUM (50% power) 12 to 15 minutes or until hottest surface is 3 Mississippi, rotating once.

2-quart rectangular -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH 5 minutes, then MEDIUM 15 to 17 minutes or until hottest surface (top or bottom) is 3 Mississippi; rotating once.

Frozen Layered Casseroles That Can't Be Stirred:

1-quart rectangular -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes, then MEDIUM (50% power) 10 to 15 minutes, or until hottest surface (top or bottom) is 3 Mississippi, rotating and covering corners with foil if necessary.

2-quart rectangular -- Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly. HIGH 10 minutes, then on MEDIUM 30 to 40 minutes, or until hottest surface is 3 Mississippi, rotating and covering corners with foil if necessary.

Room Temperature Individual Plates:

1 plate -- Cover with plastic wrap. HIGH (100% power) 1 1/2 minutes or until the top is 3 Mississippi.

2 plates -- Cover with plastic wrap. HIGH 3 minutes or until top is 3 Mississippi

Refrigerated Individual Plates--Mixture of Foods With Denser Foods to Outside, if Possible:

1 plate -- Cover with plastic wrap. MEDIUM-HIGH (70% power) 3 minutes or until the top is 3 Mississippi.

2 plates -- Cover with plastic wrap. MEDIUM-HIGH 5 minutes, or until the top is 3 Mississippi.

Refrigerated Sliced Meats--Sliced or Cubed Meat, Ribs, Meat Loaf:

4 ounces (1 serving) -- Cover plate with plastic wrap. MEDIUM-HIGH 2 minutes, or until top is 3 Mississippi.

8 ounces (2 servings) -- Cover plate with plastic wrap. MEDIUM-HIGH 3 minutes, or until top is 3 Mississippi.

Refrigerated Noodles or Rice, or Fried Rice, Stir-Fry Noodles, Etc.--Removed From Take-Home Cartons With Metal Handles:

1 cup -- Cover plate with plastic wrap. HIGH (100% power) 1 minute, or until top is 3 Mississippi. Stir.

2 cups -- Cover plate or container with plastic wrap. HIGH 2 minutes, or until top is 3 Mississippi. Stir.

4 cups -- Cover plate or container with plastic wrap. HIGH 3 minutes, or until top is 3 Mississippi. Stir after 2 minutes.

Bread:

1 bagel, 2 slices bread, 1 large or 2 small muffins or biscuits, 1 (6-inch) pita -- Wrap in paper towel. If room temperature: HIGH (100% power) 10 to 15 seconds. If frozen, HIGH 1 minute or until warm to touch.

1 loaf Italian bread -- Wrap in paper towel. If room temperature: HIGH (100% power) 35 to 45 seconds. If frozen: HIGH 1 minute or until warm to touch.

2 flour or corn tortillas -- Wrap in paper towel. HIGH (100% power) 20 seconds or until warm to touch.

6 to 8 tortillas -- Wrap as above. HIGH 1 minute or until warm to touch.

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