I am thinking about getting rid of our microwave. I know it seems uheard of, but the darn thing takes up so much counter space. I dream of what I could do with that counter space. And it appears to be on its last legs. I wonder how I can sneak it out to the dump without my husband noticing it’s gone.
Really, the only thing I use the microwave for is to thaw and reheat things. I never use it for cooking anymore. Thawing without a microwave just requires a little advance planning. But reheating seemed like a more difficult prospect, until I gave it a little thought.
I have two secret weapons when it comes to reheating on the stovetop or oven, rather than in the microwave. They are butter and chicken stock.
Most cooked vegetables, including purees and mashes, reheat very well by adding a little butter, and it doesn’t hurt the flavor any. Melt the butter over medium-low. Then add the leftover vegetables and stir gently until warmed through.
For other dishes, I use chicken stock.I don’t bother with homemade stock for heating. I just keep a couple of those aseptic containers of stock in the pantry. Once opened, they keep for a week in the fridge, and since I use chicken stock almost every day, they are handy to have around.
On the stovetop, I add a little chicken stock to pasta and rice dishes and stews, just enough to moisten the food and provide a medium for conducting heat. You don’t want to turn the leftovers into soup (or maybe you do — nothing wrong with that). Reheat over medium, stirring frequently, until warmed through. This works even if the food is already in a sauce, as I find that sauces tend to thicken while in the fridge.
For casseroles, baked dishes and whole pieces of meat like chicken breasts, I add some chicken stock to the baking dish, cover with foil and reheat for 10 minutes or so in a 425-degree oven. This is actually a trick I learned from carting home leftovers from Maggiano’s, and it works very well. I know that seems like a high heat, but you want to reheat the food, not re-cook it, so a higher temperature is necessary.
The best way to reheat pizza is in a dry nonstick skillet on top of the stove, by the way. This keeps the crust crispy. What tips do you have for reheating? And do you think I should do away with the microwave?