There are some days in the kitchen when speed is the commodity that you value most. So if you’re eyeing a frozen casserole sitting in your freezer – grateful that it’s there in the first place – you may run through the possibilities. Obviously, it’s too late to defrost it in the refrigerator, a process that takes at least 24 hours. Thawing the casserole in cold water is a high-maintenance exercise and a potentially time-consuming one, too. That leaves the microwave, which means that you will have to cook the casserole immediately after defrosting it to ensure the casserole does not begin to breed harmful bacteria on its speedy way to your dinner table.
Things You'll Need
- Body scale
- Food thermometer
Weigh your casserole on a scale. Defrosting is not an exact science, especially when you consider that microwaves vary. Knowing the weight of a casserole can help you defrost it quickly.
Place the casserole in the microwave – provided it is in a microwave-safe dish – and set it for 50-percent power. Alternatively, deploy the “thaw” or “defrost” feature, being sure to follow the instructions contained in your owner’s manual.
Thaw the casserole for about six minutes per pound. Check the casserole after every six-minute interval. Rotate it 180 degrees if it is so large it will not rotate on a built-in turntable in the microwave on its own.
Cook the casserole immediately after defrosting it, either in the microwave or in the oven. This ensures your safety because some regions of the casserole – especially the outside edges – may have begun to cook while it was defrosting. Once fully cooked, the temperature reading from the middle of the casserole should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a food thermometer.
Tips & Warnings
- You can slide the frozen casserole directly into the oven, effectively allowing it to defrost and cook at the same time. However, this tact won't be speedy. Plan to nearly double the cooking time to account for the casserole’s frozen state. So if your favorite lasagne casserole normally takes one hour to cook in the oven, plan to cook a frozen one for nearly two hours. Check the casserole’s progress about halfway through the cooking time.
- When food becomes warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it reaches what the USDA calls the “danger zone” – meaning the stage in which bacteria can grow and multiply.
- Never defrost perishable food on the counter because it could reach the “danger zone” in this state, too.
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