The Bain-Marie. Or How to Reheat Leftovers without a Microwave

Just another beautiful town (Monpazier) in the Lot-et-Garonne, France. Photo by Phillip C. via Flickr

Zut alors! This noon, my microwave just stopped working, just as I was trying to reheat some leftovers for lunch (Lentil Dal and rice).

Thankfully, I remembered the bain-marie trick that one of my favorite bonne femmes taught me.

I was staying with our friends, the Briffeille family, over Easter weekend at their vacation home in the Lot-et-Garonne (in Southwestern France). They’d served quite the feast, and it was time for them to go back to their home in the Gers. So they left my husband and me with the keys to their house and a refrigerator full of leftovers.

Before she left, Madame Briffeille showed me her favorite way of reheating leftovers, sans micro-onde. After all, she had spent a long time cooking this food—she didn’t want me to dry it out reheating it in the oven or stovetop. Here’s her gently coddling way of making sure her cooking tasted as good on days two and three as it did on day one.

The Bain Marie (or Water Bath) for Reheating Leftovers

1. Put the food in a shallow metal baking pan. Madame was reheating leg-of-lamb slices and some potato gratin. Today, I reheated frozen lentil dal and rice. Then, place the metal pan in a large, shallow skillet. Pour water around the shallow baking pan; the water level should be about half-way up the inner pan (do not pour water so high that it would boil into the pan).

2. Bring water to a boiling. Then, reduce heat, cover and simmer until your food is done. It took about 15 minutes to reheat my lentils and rice from a frozen state. Be sure to check the water level now and then so that it doesn't boil dry.



3. Voilà. Moist, hot results—without taking forever (as it might in the oven) and without drying out or scorching the food (so easy to do in a saucepan over heat).





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