No appliance does a better job than the microwave oven for precooking chicken and for saving you time and cleanup. In 20 minutes or less, poultry pieces are ready to use in salads, soups, casseroles, and more.
Microwave cooking is extremely easy, but it does differ from conventional methods. If you have never used a microwave oven, some background information will be helpful.
Unlike a regular oven, which uses currents of hot, dry air to cook food, a microwave oven bombards a piece of chicken, for example, with short, high-frequency radio waves. These waves cause the moisture inside the food to vibrate and generate heat. One drawback is that food sometimes cooks unevenly unless it is turned or stirred. Another is that cooking can progress in an instant from juicy to overdone, so most recipes suggest that you check for doneness after the minimum cooking time.
Not all baking dishes are microwave safe. Some manufacturers’ labels will tell you, but if you are unsure, try the following test: Fill a glass measuring cup with 1/2 cup water and place the cup and a baking dish without any metal trim in the microwave. Cook on 100 percent power (high) for 1 minute. If the dish stays cool, go ahead and use it. If it gets hot, use something else.
A final caution: Cooking times for microwave recipes are matched to a specific wattage (we use 600 to 700 watts). If the wattage of your oven differs, be sure to adjust the timing, or your food will be underdone or overcooked.
Use a microwave-safe dish that is large enough to hold the chicken pieces in a single layer. Arrange the chicken, skin-side up (here the breasts have been skinned), with the meatiest parts toward the edges of the dish.
Covering Chicken with Waxed Paper
Moist chicken will bubble and spatter as it cooks in the microwave. To keep the juices in the baking dish -- not on the oven walls -- cover the chicken lightly but completely with a sheet of waxed paper; there is no need to seal.
Rearranging Chicken Pieces
Halfway through cooking, pull out the dish with the chicken. With tongs, turn the pieces over and rearrange them so that the less-cooked parts are near the edges of the dish. Cover again with the waxed paper.