Sunday, September 25, 2005

Chicken in a Solar Cooker

After last week's cobbler and lots of talk, I decided to test the (food) safety limits of my Cookit cooker. I boned a few chicken thighs, cut the meat into chunks, and tossed in a few chopped carrots and leeks. Since I couldn't rely on the browning process for flavor, I was generous with the thyme, rosemary, and pepper. I also kept the bones in the mix, reasoning that every little bit of flavor would help in what is essentially a steam cooker. The raw ingredients:
Raw Chicken
Chicken is in a dark pan that will absorb the sun's reflected rays and placed in an oven bag that forms a pocket of insulating air.
Chicken cooking

Rosa, in weekend mode, stirs the chicken. The vegetables are releasing enough liquid to create steam. When using a solar cooker, avoid adding extra water to minimize the initial heating stage.

Stirring the chicken

After an hour, the chicken is mostly white on the outside, with traces of pink on the larger pieces. The outside of the pan is registering 175 degrees F.

Partly cooked chicken
2 1/2 hours from the start, the stew is ready: steamy, peppery, and quite flavorful. The next time I think I'll start cooking at 11/11:30am rather than noon. The larger pieces of chicken reached 168 on an instant read thermometer, the carrots were tender, and the leeks very soft, but I think another 30 minutes of strong sun would have melded the flavors. For a lazy day of stoveless cooking, though, it was just right.
Ready to serve


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