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May 10, 2007 11:38 AM

Microwaved buffet: turkey, potatoes

I'm planning a casual buffet dinner for 8. This may be impossible, but I would like to avoid using my oven the day of the event because it makes my little apartment too warm for comfort on even mild days. I am the guest of honor (grad school grad) and so am using easy-to-prepare foods.

My potential menu:
CRANBERRY SAUCE & OTHER TOPPINGS for making little sandwiches

My question is, can I warm the whole turkey in the microwave? What about scalloped potatoes? Any idea how these might fare in a microwave?

I am open to other suggestions, including, I am crazy for trying to get away with no oven use and I should just crank the A/C! Thanks for your ideas.

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  1. If the microwave has no convection or browning element, the end product will almost certainly have the appearance and aroma of warmed deli meat, though this particular deli meat seems to be of high quality and I don't think it will be a big deal.

    In fact the scalloped potatoes might be a bigger disappointment, I think the browning is vital to those. Perhaps you can heat it through and then just put it under the broiler for a few minutes without heating up the the apt too much?

    1. I don't think you'd be happy with the result on this one. renov8r has a good idea about the potatoes, but ultimately, the whole turkey breast isn't likely to come out well from a microwave. Room temperature turkey isn't bad, though, espeically if you're intending for people to make sandwiches. So, you could cook the turkey ahead of time and let it cool down.

      If you've got a toaster oven (or are willing to pop the $20 or so for a cheap one before the dinner) you could do the potatoes in there...they don't put out much heat really and is our go-to appliance all summer long.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ccbweb

        Thank you for your responses. I believe this is too risky to try. I like the toaster oven idea, but if I'm going to use the regular oven anyway for the turkey...

        The problem is I'm graduating Saturday morning and am expecting guests Saturday afternoon, so my cooking has to get done tomorrow and everything stored in the fridge overnight.

        Any other ideas for foods that might reheat quickly in oven or microwave are welcomed.

        1. re: ennyl

          I feel like I always recommend this, but what about cold poached salmon? Buy a large salmon fillet, poach it in water the night before, and put it in the fridge. Pull the skin of tomorrow, put it on a platter, and serve. You can make a simple sauce tonight to go with it tonight as well. Instead, of the scalloped potatoes, I'd do a german potato salad with it that you would serve at room temperature (put it around the salmon on the platter).

          1. re: ennyl

            If you did the turkey tomorrow during the day, you could just let it come to room temperature on the counter and not have to use the oven at all.

            Otherwise, you're probably ahead to try to stick with foods that do well room temperature or chilled. Cold poached salmon is a classic, and the aparagus celeste suggested would go wonderfully with it. A potato salad can be very elegant (you can slice them as you would for scalloped potatoes and use a viniagrette style dressing, it'll look great on a platter).

        2. The main problem with your all-microwave meal is that your micro can't fit all this stuff at the same time, and you'll need to heat things in succession, which can throw off the pacing as well as stress you out when you should be socializing. Since it is too hot for the oven, why not go with a hot-weather friendly menu? You need a "cold buffet." Cooking schools have entire classes in "cold buffet."

          Get some nice sliced ham from Honeybaked or similar--or if you want to avoid pork, you can buy a roasted, spiral sliced turkey breast from Honeybaked, lay it out on a nice platter with some lettuce leaf trimmings, and stick with your idea of making little sandwiches with trimmings. You don't need to warm it at all (ham or turkey).

          Switch to a "fancy" potato salad in pace of the scalloped potatoes; easy to make ahead and serve that day. Use small red creamer potatoes, boiled and sliced into thin rounds. Make a dijon vinagrette, toss the potatoes, chopped egg, and some chopped chives with the vinagrette, and scatter some crumbled goat cheese on top.

          Ditch the corn on the cob, which has to be at least warm to melt the butter, and it is always awkward to eat when dressed up. Do some other veggie...asparagus are very nice served cold or room temp.

          Finally, a fresh fruit salad is always welcome on a hot day, and it is easy to make a few hours ahead as well. You can fill it full of seasonal berries and nuts and coconut.

          1. Why not substitute a nice baked ham for the turkey? You can bake and glaze it the day before, refrigerate it, and serve it cold. You could keep the rest of the menu the same except instead of cranberry sauce have several kinds of mustard.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Querencia


              Thank you so much for your input. I love the baked ham idea. It's so flexible. If it's warm out, I can serve it cold, and if its cooler, I can warm in the oven. (While the salmon would be beautiful, it's not my personal favorite, and it's my day after all!) I also love the asparagus celeste idea instead of corn. Finally, while I personally love the fancy potato salad idea, I have several salads planned already, and I know of at least one picky eater in the crowd who is famous for filling up on spuds, so it may be mashed potatoes (which can be microwaved). a little unelegant but functional!

              Thanks guys! My buffet will be so much better thanks to you.