Solar Cooking Day 2

Solar Cooking Day 2 – Pot Roast

Solar cooking or cooking with a solar oven requires sunshine. Last week I cooked pork chops, and this week I wanted to try a pot roast. I am cooking with the SOS Sport solar oven.

This summer has been very hot and dry, making for a very bad wildfire season in the Southwest. But, last weekend, the forecast for this week called for monsoonal flows to begin on Wednesday (July 4), and perhaps last into the coming weekend. In looking at the forecast, it appeared that Tuesday (July 3) would be the best day of the week to try the pot roast.

I did the shopping on Monday, because I’ve already read enough to know that if whole meals, such as I am trying to prepare, are going to cook successfully in a solar oven, everything needs to go into a preheated oven no later than 10:00 am. Cross rib roast was on sale, as were red potatoes, carrots, and sweet onions. Great! That seemed auspicious.

By 9:00 am on Tuesday, I had the SOS Sport solar oven out on the patio, preheating. Inside, I was doing the food preparation.

Beef pot roast ingredients for solar cooking

Beef pot roast ingredients

Because of the quantity of food involved, I decided to split the ingredients in half and use two pots. Some recipes suggest cooking the meat in one pot, and the vegetables in the other. But part of what makes pot roast so good is the flavor of the vegetables cooked in the beef broth. So, I put half the meat and half the vegetables together in each pot. I brushed the top of the meat with Tamari and then added fresh-ground pepper. That was the only seasoning I used, because I was pretty liberal with fresh garlic and a lot of sweet onion. This is what the pots looked like at the end of prepping.

Ingredients ready for solar cooking of pot roast

Ingredients ready for solar cooking of pot roast

The oven was up to 235 F.

Oven preheated for solar cooking

Oven preheated for solar cooking

The first time I used the Sport oven, I had a hard time with the clips used to fasten the lid to the oven. I thought it was just my hands. In reading, I found a lot of people had trouble with them, and someone suggested the large paper clips (clamp style). So, I decided to try that, and I cannot begin to say how much easier that made things!!!

Solar cooking with SOS Sport, using paper clip clamps in place of clips

Solar cooking with SOS Sport, using paper clip clamps in place of clips

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Cooking with a Solar Oven

Cooking with a solar oven…a new experience for me this week. I have the Sport Solar Oven, but there are many different brands of solar ovens on the market at all different prices. My solar oven had been sitting in the box in which it came for a couple of years, and I finally found some time to unpack it and try it out. I will also credit a friend in Arkansas, Dr. Robert Allen, who had begun to use his solar oven, as an inspiration for me to get mine out and try it.

I decided to start with a recipe that was totally different from the things I usually cook, so that I would not be tempted, at least initially, to compare the solar oven results with recipes I had been cooking for years. I’ll move to my familiar recipes later, over the course of the summer. I looked over the recipes that came with the solar oven, and when I went to the store I found some beautiful pork chops that were on special this week. So, I decided to try this recipe first.

I started by preheating the oven in the sun while I was doing the food preparation. The temp in the oven was 250 F when I put the food in at 10:00 am. The temp in the solar oven quickly dropped to 150 F, then slowly climbed back up to around 250 F. Between 4:00 and 4:30 pm, the temp in the oven dropped rapidly back to around 210 F, even though there was plenty of sun and the ambient temp was 100 F in the shade of my back porch. The solar ovens stress the importance of the angle of the sun, and I became a believer with my first use of the solar oven. Some of the solar ovens come with reflectors. For my oven, reflectors can be purchased separately. I plan to buy reflectors for use in the winter when the angle of the sun is very low on the horizon, even on the bright and sunny winter days here in the desert southwest.

First layer - pork chops

First layer – pork chops

Second layer

Second layer – cabbage, onions, apple

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