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Pre-zapping grilled foods makes sense - precook chicken in the microwave before grilling and you accomplish two things:

The chicken will be ready to eat in about half the time, and you can be reasonably sure that it will be cooked inside when it's browned (or burned) on the outside.If you've ever had a grilled chicken leg that looked luscious and well-done, but it oozed blood when you cut into it, you know how important this can be.

Before grilling, zap the chicken pieces on high (100 percent) 4 to 5 minutes a pound, or until the chicken starts to cook on the outside. Transfer immediately to the hot grill to finish the cooking. The chicken skin will be a little more delicate after zapping, so be sure to oil the grill or spray with nonstick cooking spray before preheating.

While the chicken is on the grill, baste with a barbecue sauce such as Smoky Texas Sauce.

Other tips:

- The longer the microwaving time, the shorter the grilling time.

- If the grilling time will be very short, you might want to brush some barbecue sauce onto the chicken while it's in the microwave.

- Arrange chicken pieces in microwave with thicker parts to the outside, and thin or bony parts toward center. Cover for faster zapping.

"Zap before grilling" also works with vegetables and ribs. Don't try it for hamburgers or steak, which cook quickly on the grill.




1 can (10 ounces) tomato soup

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

In 1-quart casserole or glass measure, stir together all of the ingredients. Microwave at high (100 percent) for 7 to 9 minutes, until hot and well-blended. Makes 11/2 cups sauce.