Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Solar cooking - part 2

Yesterday I made RMan and RSons' dinner in the solar oven :

Beef Shin with beans and lentils

The night before I rinsed 1/2 cup lentils until the water ran clear and then I placed them in a container with enough water to cover.  Then placed 1/2 cup of haricot beans in a pot on the stove with 1 cup of water and boiled them for 5 minutes.  I then added the lentils to the par boiled beans, covered the pot and set it aside to soak overnight.

I placed the beans and lentils in a black pot and added 1 X 115gm tin of tomato paste, adding 2 extra tins of plain water.  1 tbsp mixed herbs, 1 tsp garlic flakes and 1 crumbled beef stock cube was added and mixed together. (For a hotter, spicy dish the optional extra spices to add are: 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds and 1 tsp chilli powder)

I removed the bones from 680 gms of beef shin and added the bones to the pot – the marrow in the bones will assist in providing a tasty gravy. I then cut the meat into 2cm cubes and added that to the pot.

3 X carrots were peeled and sliced and I roughly chopped 3 X large tomatoes. (If using potatoes, just wash and cut them to the required size – there is no need to peel.) On top of the beans / lentils I added the meat, then placing the vegetables on top of the meat - to cover it.

The pot was covered and placed in the solar oven which had been pre-heated to 130 – 140oC.

(If you find the gravy is a little thin, blend 1 – 2 tsp of maizena / cornflour with water and add to the stew 2 hours after placing the pot in the oven.  Allow to continue cooking for another 1 - 2 hours.)

Ensure that your pot faces the sun for at least 3 - 4 hours, and that the temperature inside the oven is above 120oC. This dish should cook for 3 hours – but all day will also do – it will not burn – the meat will just get more tender the longer it cooks.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.

I added a pot of rice (in boiling water) to the solar oven and let that cook for an hour - it was perfect rice with no starchy stickiness clumping the lot together - that is because the rice doesn't boil and release it's starch - it just simmers away.

The verdict from the menfolk - very tasty, delicious, tender and all gone...

And, today I have cooked Greek Chicken which I will serve with one of John's solar baked loaves of bread - that'll be perfect for mopping up the gravy.

Am I starving the men in my life?  RMan has attacked the hot freshly baked loaf - and the chicken has only been in the oven for an hour - with we still 5 hours still to go until dinner time...
To prepare and cook Greek Chicken is dead easy.

Rub 7  - 8 pieces of chicken with an oil / garlic / salt and pepper mixture.  Then take 7 pieces of cinnamon and place them at the base of your pot - put the chicken pieces on top of them.

Slice 3 tomatoes and place them round the chicken.  Add as many olives (halved) as you like and then cover the chicken with 7 - 8 slices of (unpeeled and washed) lemon. 

Add 100mls of white wine, cover and place in a solar oven pre-heated to a minimum of 130oC for 2 1/2 - 3 hours - any longer will only ensure that your chicken is fall off the bone tender.

Chicken cooked in the solar oven is an absolute treat - tender, tasty and moist - it will brown, but won't go crisp.  And the gravy that it produces - delicious.

It's 4.15pm and the chicken is cooked - it's now in the hotbox until dinnertime.  Note the gravy which has been produced.  What a clever little oven... :-)  And my dinner preparation is over for the day - what more could a woman ask for?
A tip for keeping the cooked chicken hot until dinner time - place it straight from the hot (130 - 150oC) solar oven into your hotbox (haybox) ( and scroll down the page to the 2nd photograph of my hotbox).

The total amount of electricity I consumed in cooking both meals was that which was used to boil two cups of water for the rice.  Otherwise - the sun did it all for me :-)  And the herbs, carrots and tomatoes came from my garden - as well as the lemon.


  1. Beautiful food and photos! I love your solar oven. I do not have one but plan to build one soon. I cannot eat any grains at all so all breads, rice, etc., are out for me. I'm accustomed to it now, but in the cooler months, it's more difficult because I love a crusty loaf with a hearty soup. I can't have even one speck of wheat grain.

  2. o.m.g :/
    I can almost taste those photos! lol...wonderful and looks amazing, Dani. I'll be trying this out as soon as I'm able to...thx great post!

  3. o.m.g. :/

    This looks absolutely delicious! Wonderful recipe and easy to make. I can't wait to try this as soon as I can eat. Thx, Dani...great post!

  4. Ezra - you could also purify (boil) your water in here too - pity it doesn't filter also :-)

  5. Ginger - I have a couple of wheat free recipes - will look them up and post them for you :-)


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