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Food & Drink

Things You didn’t Know You could Cook in a Microwave

The microwave sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s actually a very useful appliance and a seriously under-appreciated kitchen tool. Sure, you probably won’t want to forgo the grill to cook your $100 prime rib roast in the microwave, but even chefs at fancy New York restaurants cop to nuking dinners at home — including delicate entrees like fish en papillote. Who would have thought?

Aside from the usual reheating of last night’s leftovers, there are a lot of ways to take advantage of the microwave and its quick-cooking abilities. Did you know you can use it to toast nuts and roast garlic? No? Here’s what else you didn’t know you could cook in the microwave.

Bacon without the Spatter

As good as bacon is, the hassle of frying it on the stove, with all its greasy spatter, is sometimes enough to convince you to go vegetarian for this morning’s breakfast. Sure, you can cook it in the oven, but if you’re trying to satisfy a craving now, that’s not going to work either. Enter the microwave. Line a plate with paper towels, lay your bacon down, cover with another paper towel, and cook on high for about five minutes. Depending on the thickness, cooking time will vary, so keep an eye on it. You definitely don’t want to ruin a plate of bacon by over-cooking it.

Popcorn minus the Iffy Ingredients

Remember when that guy ate so much microwaveable popcorn (containing the chemical diacetyl) that he got “popcorn lung”? If that horror story scared you off the stuff, the good news is that DIY microwave popcorn is just as easy as the pre-packaged version. Orville Redenbacher wouldn’t want you to know this, but all you really need is a brown paper lunch bag. Just dump in a quarter cup of kernels, fold the bag over a few times, and microwave it on high until the popping slows. (Since microwaves vary, the cook time will vary, but it’s typically around two minutes.) Add in a little olive oil or melted butter, salt or other seasonings, shake, and voila! It might not be neon yellow, but maybe that’s a good thing.

Single-Serve Frittatas

Sunday isn’t the only time you can satisfy your craving for brunch fare. A frittata is easy enough to make on a busy work day, thanks to the microwave. Grab a mug, spray it with cooking spray, and crack an egg into it. Whisk it up with a little milk, salt, and pepper, top it with whatever veggies and cooked breakfast meats that strike your fancy, and nuke it for one minute. It doesn’t get much easier than that, and think of all the money you’ll save on that Starbucks sous vide egg situation.

Toasted Nuts without the Risk of Burning

How many times have you ruined a skillet full of nuts by walking away from the stove and completely forgetting about it until you smell that telltale burnt nut smell? If your answer is “always,” then this trick’s for you. Avoid the whole possibility of burning nuts by microwaving them instead. Just cook them on a microwave-safe plate at one-minute intervals, stirring after each minute, to desired doneness. While you could technically still burn them this way, you’d have to work pretty hard at it.