There was an episode of MasterChef where the contestants were sent off to some college dorm and they were asked to cook a gourmet dish using a microwave oven only. Some of them freaked out. I felt for those that freaked out. A gourmet dish cooked in a microwave oven? Sounds like Mission: Impossible.
But the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that a truly good cook should be able to make a delicious dish even with the most rudimentary cooking tools. Think a tin can in a campfire. That kind of rudimentary. By those standards, cooking with a microwave should be considered hi-tech and ultra convenient.
So, I’m learning how to cook with the microwave oven. My first attempt, a chicken curry many, many years ago was an epic failure, but today’s sausage and mushroom pilaf — cooked entirely in the microwave oven — was a great success.
Fluffy rice. Nicely browned sausage meat. Everything bursting with flavors and colors. I’ve come a long way, baby.
It’s possible to brown meat in the microwave? Oh, yes, with a microwave browning skillet. If you’ve got one, making sausage and mushroom pilaf is a breeze.
Chop all the ingredients then brown the chopped sausages in the microwave. In a video, it is advised that the browning skillet be covered with a paper towel to catch any oil that might splatter.
Add the mushrooms and carrots and microwave again.
Partially cook the rice and peas in broth.
Add the sausages, mushrooms and carrots.
Cook again and voila! Your sausage and mushrooms pilaf is done.
- 1 to 2 smoky, garlicky sausages (about 100 grams)
- 1/2 cup cubed carrot
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 4 to 6 button mushrooms sliced
- 3/4 cup long-grain rice (I used jasmine)
- 1 and 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 cups bone broth (rice varieties have different capacities for liquid absorption), preferably homemade
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
Prepare all the ingredients first. Cut and measure the vegetables; chop the sausage.
Heat a microwave browning skillet on HIGH, uncovered, for one minute. Put in the sausage meat and cook on HIGH, uncovered, for one minute.
Add the mushrooms and carrot. Cook on HIGH for another 30 seconds. Set aside.
Measure the broth into a microwave-safe bowl. It should be newly boiled. Alternatively, boil in the microwave for about two minutes on HIGH.
Pour the rice into the hot broth.
Add the peas. Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Cook on HIGH for ten minutes. Uncovered.
The rice would be almost cooked at this point and there should still be a little broth that has not been absorbed.
Add the sausage meat mixture to the rice.
Stir. If the mixture appears too dry, add a few tablespoonfuls of hot broth.
Return to the microwave and cook, covered this time, for five minutes on MEDIUM. Leave in the microwave without removing the cover for another five minutes.
Fluff up the rice with a spoon and serve.
And there’s the sausage and mushroom pilaf. Perfectly cooked with no stirring and no mess.