Holiday Break #9 No-fail, Fast and Savory Turkey Dinner

in Build Green - Energy,Build Green - Home,Build That Green Blog,Energy Efficiency,Kitchen

It’s a Heavy-hitting Holiday Helping Oven

Using high-performance appliances is vital to effective green building. Today’s ‘Break’ shows a novel way to use an energy-saving kitchen device to prepare a classic Christmas dinner.

The goal here is simple: spend more time visiting, and less time working in the kitchen.

Using your microwave oven for holiday cooking is not  only faster, but often easier and safer than conventional cooking. To illustrate, I’ll show you how you can create a complete tasty turkey dinner in your microwave oven.

Microwave ovens are Faster and Easier

First off, microwaving saves more energy than regular oven cooking.  Because microwaves penetrate foods and cook them below the surface, cooking is faster for most foods. What’s nice is the surface remains moist, not dry and crusty.

Secondly, your cooking turkey needs no attention if you use an ovenproof cooking bag.  Shield the breastbone area and legs with strips of aluminum foil (yes, foil) and produce a fully-cooked moist bird.

In a conventional oven you shield food to prevent over-browning. In microwaves, use some foil to shield thin parts, such as the wing tips and legs on poultry, which would cook before larger parts were done.

A stuffed whole turkey takes about the same microwaving time as unstuffed. Use adequate broth or melted butter for turkey stuffing since microwaves are attracted to moisture.

190 degrees is your target temperature. Do not put a conventional metal meat thermometer in your microwave oven. Ignore any pop-up thermometers too. They don’t go deeply enough into the turkey to give a true reading when microwaving. Instead, use an instant read-style meat thermometer or check the looseness of the leg joints.

Double the capacity of your microwave oven by using the shelf if one was provided by the manufacturer. You can add small casseroles or vegetables during last minutes of your turkey’s cooking time. I’ve provided a sweet potato casserole recipe as an option.

Microwave Ovens are Safer

Microwaves are very short, high-frequency radio waves harnessed to heat food.  When the oven door is closed and turned on, a transmitter, called a magnetron, sends a signal to a receiver inside the metal-lined oven cavity. The moment you open the door, the microwaves stop broadcasting and energy use stops.

Microwave ovens shut off automatically so when (not if) you get distracted, your dinner isn’t overcooked or worse. One third of home fires start in the kitchen with cooking as the primary cause.

Time Your Meal Perfectly

Here’s how to time your meal so it’s ready when you need it:

4:00 pm Prepare defrosted turkey by placing in cooking bag with ½ cup water in 13x9x2-in glass dish. Close and tie bag as directed in recipe.

4:15 pm Microwave turkey on oven shelf at Medium (5) for 90 minutes.  Meanwhile prepare sweet potato casserole. In 1 ½-qt. casserole combine sweet potatoes, drained, with brown sugar and shredded coconut and butter. Prepare cranberry sauce according to recipe.

5:45 pm Add sweet potato casserole to oven. Continue microwaving 45 minutes more.

6:30 pm Remove foods from oven. Let stand while tossing salad or warming rolls, as desired.

6:50 pm Serve dinner.

Microwave Turkey in a Cooking Bag
Power Level: Medium (5)
Microwave Time: 11 to 13 minutes per pound.

9-15 lb. Organic Turkey
1 Tbsp bouquet sauce
4 Tbsp butter
½ cup water, chicken broth, or white wine

Pat turkey (up to 15 pounds) skin dry then brush with a mixture of 1 tablespoon brown bouquet sauce and 4 tablespoons butter. Shield breastbone area and legs with strips of aluminum foil. (yes, foil)

Place turkey in an ovenproof cooking bag and arrange in a glass roasting dish. If desired, lightly oil inside of bag over breast to prevent sticking. Add ½ cup water, chicken broth, or wine. Close bag securely using plastic tie. Slash bag near closure.

Microwave for minimum time or until a meat thermometer reaches 190 degrees, or legs move freely at joints.
If not using turntable, microwave at Medium (5) for ½ the cooking time. Rotate dish ½ turn and continue cooking.

Tip: Let stand 20 minutes before carving to allow joints to continue to cook and meat firms for easier slicing.

Super Yummy Stuffing

Power Level: High (10)
Microwave Time: 4 to 6 min,. total

8 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
½ cup minced onion
1 cup minced celery
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh garlic
2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup low-salt chicken broth, or strained turkey drippings

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Transfer into an 8-in. square baking dish.  Microwave at High (10) 4 to 6 minutes. Serve with turkey or other poultry.  Makes about 5 cups

For Stuffed Bird: Allow ½ cup stuffing per pound of bird.  The prevent food spoilage, stuff just before cooking and remove leftover stuffing from cooked bird before storing.

Sweet Potato Casserole.

Power Level:  Medium (5)
Microwave Time: 30-45 min.,  total
2 ea. 16-oz. cans sweet potatoes
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup butter

In 1 ½-qt. casserole combine 2 cans (16-oz. each) sweet potatoes, drained, with ½ cup each packed brown sugar and shredded coconut and ¼ cup butter.   Microwave at Medium (5) 30 minutes or so.

Chunky Cranberry Sauce

Power Level: High (10)
Microwave Time: 18 to 20 min., total

1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup water

In a 4-cup glass bowl stir all ingredients together. Cover. Microwave at High (10) 18 to 20 Minutes, stirring after ½ time.  Serve warm or cold.  Makes about 1 ½ cups

Enjoy and I’d love to hear how your meal turns out!

I’m curious, what yummy foods do you prepare in the microwave?

Click Here to View all 12 Ideas

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