Ina Garten Uses Her Microwave For 2 Simple Tasks

Almost every American home has a microwave. It saves us time, doesn't take up too much space, and is energy-efficient, too. No wonder more of us are turning to microwave cooking more than ever before as the cost of living continues to rise.

For some people, the kitchen appliance is mainly used for reheating leftovers or making a hot drink. For others, it's a fast way to defrost ingredients when cooking for the family, or making a quick yet indulgent dessert (just like Alton Brown). And for some, the microwave is a complete way of cooking, given that some modern machines can also bake, broil, and grill.

Even Ina Garten, who probably has more recipes and techniques up her sleeve than most of us, still turns to her trusty microwave for a quick and easy way to prepare certain dishes. As she revealed in a podcast conversation with New Yorker editor David Remnick, she mainly uses it for two things — making oatmeal, and melting ingredients such as butter and chocolate.

Ina Garten's microwaved maple and butter oatmeal

As well as being a fairly healthy option, oatmeal is one of the coziest, most comforting breakfasts, especially on a cold day. For Ina Garten, she whips hers up quickly, making a delicious version of Irish oatmeal with maple syrup and butter every morning, according to her chat with The New Yorker podcast. And to do so, she turns not to her stove, but to her trusty microwave.

"I make my oatmeal in my microwave — it's so easy!" says Garten on her Barefoot Contessa site. To make the dish, she uses quick-cooking oats, specifying that she especially likes the brand McCann's. She puts ⅓-cup oats in a bowl, and adds 1 cup water, and microwaves it on high for four minutes. Then she adds a pinch of salt and a splash of milk. Finally, Garten smears in a touch of butter, and a drizzle of maple syrup, and then stirs it all together.

The famous chef admits she doesn't use her microwave a lot. But, she also added that, in addition to making her favorite breakfast, she also uses the appliance to prepare ingredients for other dishes, too, such as melting butter (and making clarified butter) and tempering chocolate.

Ina Garten's microwave shortcuts for melted butter and chocolate

In addition to quick oatmeal, Ina Garten has also been known, on occasion, to use her microwave for simplifying what are usually more complicated cooking techniques. For example, she uses her microwave to not only melt butter but make clarified butter, in which the milk solids have been removed. It's great for cooking at higher temperatures than can be withstood by regular butter.

For example, she uses clarified butter for her lemon ricotta pancakes, placing regular butter in a glass measuring cup, and then microwaving it for around 30 seconds. Doing so means the milk solids fall to the bottom of the cup, and she's able to use the clear liquid fat, which remains at the top, without needing to strain it before use.

Another microwave shortcut Garten favors is for tempering chocolate, a usually complex process of heating and cooling used when making chocolate molds, or coating chocolates. In Garten's recipe for chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies, for example, she shaves her cold chocolate bar using a sharp knife to make sure it melts evenly. She then puts half the shaved chocolate in a bowl, and microwaves it for 30 seconds until melted. Then she adds the other half of the cold-shaved chocolate to the bowl of melted chocolate, and mixes it in, which keeps the temperature from getting too hot, and also makes it glossy and pretty.