I hate microwaves. In my old house I never had one, and in my new house it came built in but never gets used. They warm food up, but they make it mushy or tough. No matter how you slice it, there's always a better way to cook or warm up any given food.
The problem is that these superior methods of cooking often take a long time, particularly the oven. If I have leftovers from a restaurant, I like to put them in the oven. Three hundred fifty degrees for about 15-20 minutes makes them taste just like they did the night before. Unfortunately it takes much longer than that in practice because the oven must be preheated.
Welcome to the world of the Panasonic Light Oven. This sucker has been around for several years now, but hasn't really been popular because no one can tell if it's a microwave, toaster, toaster oven, or something else. The answer is that it's basically a cross between a toaster oven, an oven, and the divine warmth of jesus.
The Light Oven works through two methods that you've never seen before. The first are these weird ceramic bars inside the box. The bars are infrared heaters which heat the middle of the food. This isn't like a microwave where they heat the middle of the food and turn it into a leathery mush - it's just as if an oven heated it.
The second method employed are super bright lights. Don't be fooled - these aren't like the 60 watt bulb you used to put in your barbie oven as a kid. These bulbs are so bright that they can instantly heat the chamber to about 500 degrees. No need to preheat! They're so bright that wimpy reviewers complain that the oven is too bright - don't listen to them. It's glorious.
You can use the oven to bake, but I rarely do it. My foolproof method of leftover recovery is as follows:
- Remove other packaging and wrap leftovers in tin foil. I even do this for thick soups. The tin foil is nice and thin so that your food can heat even quicker.
- If possible, make your little tin foil package as even in height as possible. If something is too big to allow this, don't worry about it.
- Set the light oven for 17 minutes at 355 degrees.
That's it! After 17 minutes your food will taste perfect and be the perfect temperature. I do this many times a week and it's always fantastic. When I went to Boston a few weeks ago and didn't have a light oven I went crazy trying to reheat food. The regular oven and toaster oven both took too long.
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