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23
Cooking Techniques (continued)
Covering
As with conventional cooking, moisture
evaporates during microwave cooking.
Casserole lids or plastic wrap are used for a
tighter seal. When using plastic wrap, vent
the plastic wrap by folding back part of the
plastic wrap from the edge of the dish to
allow steam to escape. Loosen or remove
plastic wrap as recipe directs for stand time.
When removing plastic wrap covers, as well
as any glass lids, be careful to remove them
away from you to avoid steam burns.
Various degrees of moisture retention are
also obtained by using wax paper or paper
towels.
Shielding
Thin areas of meat and poultry cook more
quickly than meaty portions. To prevent
overcooking, these thin areas can be shield-
ed with strips of aluminum foil. Wooden
toothpicks may be used to hold the foil in
place.
CAUTION is to be exercised when
using foil. Arcing can occur if foil is too close
to oven wall or door and damage to your
oven will result.
Cooking time
A range of cooking time is given in each
recipe. The time range compensates for the
uncontrollable differences in food shapes,
starting temperature, and regional prefer-
ences. Always cook food for the minimum
cooking time given in a recipe and check for
doneness. If the food is undercooked, con-
tinue cooking. It is easier to add time to an
undercooked product. Once the food is
overcooked, nothing can be done.
Stirring
Stirring is usually necessary during
microwave cooking. Always bring the
cooked outside edges toward the center
and the less cooked center portions toward
the outside of the dish.
Rearranging
Rearrange small items such as chicken
pieces, shrimp, hamburger patties, or pork
chops. Rearrange pieces from the edge to
the center and pieces from the center to the
edge of the dish.
Turning
It is not possible to stir some foods to dis-
tribute the heat evenly. At times, microwave
energy will concentrate in one area of the
food. To help insure even cooking, these
food need to be turned. Turn over large
foods, such as roasts or turkeys, halfway
through cooking.
Stand Time
Most foods will continue to cook by conduc-
tion after the microwave oven is turned off.
In meat cookery, the internal temperature
will rise 5°F to 15°F (3°C to 8°C), if allowed
to stand, tented with foil, for 10 to 15 min-
utes. Casseroles and vegetables need a
shorter amount of standing time, but this
standing time is necessary to allow foods to
complete cooking to the center without over-
cooking on the edges.
Test for Doneness
The same tests for doneness used in con-
ventional cooking may be used for
microwave cooking. Meat is done when
fork-tender or splits at fibers. Chicken is
done when juices are clear yellow and
drumstick moves freely. Fish is done when it
flakes and is opaque. Cake is done when a
toothpick or cake tester is inserted and
comes out clean.
ABOUT FOOD SAFETY AND
COOKING TEMPERATURE
Check foods to see that they are cooked to
the United States Department of
Agriculture’s recommended temperatures.
TEMP FOOD
160˚F ...for fresh pork, ground meat,
boneless white poultry, fish,
seafood, egg dishes and
frozen prepared food.
165˚F ...for leftover, ready-to-reheat
refrigerated, and deli and
carryout “fresh” food.
170˚F ...white meat of poultry.
180˚F ...dark meat of poultry.
To test for doneness, insert a meat ther-
mometer in a thick or dense area away from
fat or bone. NEVER leave the thermometer
in the food during cooking, unless it is
approved for microwave oven use.
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