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Music – “Here Comes The Sun (Live) (2004 Digital Remaster)” from Live In Japan by George Harrison. Released: 2007
A few weeks ago, I got the urge to get out my solar oven and save some $$ and sweat. Prior to my recent move, I had used it fairly regularly, but in moving, it was relegated to a corner in the garage, and as the old adage says “out of sight, out of mind“. At any rate, I hauled it out and proceeded to make “Garlic Roast Pork with Vegetables“, from the cookbook “The Solar Chef – A Southwestern Recipe Book for Solar Cooking“, by Rose Marie Kern, and produced by The Solar Ranch.
Here is the recipe:
4 lb center cut pork roast
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin (I used 4 cloves)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled & chunked (I don’t like sweet
potatoes, so I substituted Yukon Golds)
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed & wedged (I didn’t have one)
1 small rutabaga (peeled & sliced) (ditto here)
2 parsnips peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
As this was kind of a last minute, what you have in the fridge kind of meal, I substituted carrots (the small size) for the fennel & rutabaga, plus I cut up an onion. I also added 1/2 cup wine and 1/2 cup beef broth to add some moisture and to tenderize the roast.
Preheat the sun oven by aiming at the sun. Cut about ten 1/2 inch deep slices into the pork and insert a sliver of garlic into each. Rub pork with combined salt and pepper. Place pork, fat side up in a roasting pan (I used a dutch oven). In a large bowl, combine oil with potatoes, fennel, rutabaga and parsnips (or your substitutes) and toss to coat. Arrange veggies around pork in roasting pan. Place into the sun oven. If you want to cook slow, adjust angle of oven every half an hour for 3 hours. If you want it done faster, adjust every 15 minutes or so and it will be done in about 2 hours, but will take longer in partly cloudy conditions.
Note that “partly cloudy conditions” is the key phrase. Although you can continue to use the solar oven on cloudy days, if the clouds are really socked in and the sun completely disappears, it’s hard to effectively use the oven. Although I had a good start, when I placed the dutch oven into the solar oven and the initial temperature was 350 degrees, within the hour, the dark monsoon clouds starting rolling in and the sun disappeared completely. Despite the initial expected drop in temperature after putting the dutch oven into the solar oven, even an hour later, the temperature had not again risen, but had dropped to 220 degrees and I decided for safety’s sake that I had better remove it to the old fashioned oven in my kitchen to finish the cooking. As it turns out, the sun never did reappear that day, not even a glimpse of it.
Solar oven cooking is really a great way to go, especially in the summer, when it’s too hot to barbeque and too hot to stand by an oven in the kitchen, but when the clouds take up a permanent place in the sky, it’s time to move things indoors. Cooking with the solar oven is also terrific in winter….it takes a bit longer for the oven to heat up, but when the skies in Albuquerque are clear, but cold, the solar cooker is the way to go!