by Tammy Taylor~
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Our homestead is located in the hot & humid south. Here in NE Texas I do all I can to keep that heat outside where it belongs when the temps (and the humidity) start to go up. I have many ways of doing this. For instance, our tea is usually brewed in a repurposed hourglass-shaped jar on the picnic table, courtesy of the sun. And our clean laundry is almost always dried outside on our *Retractable Clothesline, even in the colder winter months.
But one of my favorite ways to keep heat outside is by using my *Solar Oven to cook our food. My solar oven came with an enameled cooking set so I typically use those items when I’m cooking with the sun. One of the included vessels is a double-stack black enamelware covered pan. That will be perfect for today’s dish: Southwest Chicken served on a bed of seasoned brown rice. Quick & easy, mix it & forget it. The whole meal cooks at the same time!
SW Chicken Ingredients
I had most of the ingredients I needed right in my pantry and freezer. I pulled out two boneless skinless chicken breasts & cut them into bite-sized pieces. Then I tossed ’em in one of the enamelware pans and added 1 drained & rinsed cup of pintos I’d thawed from leftovers stored in our freezer (although black beans would be good too). Then I added a cup of drained corn that was also in my freezer from the corn-on-the-cob glut last year. A cup of homemade salsa and a can of Rotel. Now Rotel can be spicy so be sure to adjust to suit your own tastes. RancherMan & I like our food spicy so I got the regular Rotel. A quick mix and now it’s time to turn my attention to the brown rice.
Seasoned Brown Rice
RancherMan’s not fond of white rice. He finds it bland & without character. But that makes me happy – I much prefer brown rice myself! The ratio for cooking rice is 1 part rice to 2 parts water or broth. Since there are only 2 of us here I measured 1 cup of brown rice and poured it into the second pot. Then I added 2 cups of Homemade Broth and gave it all a stir.
I wanted a little extra flavor in my rice so I added an Herb Bomb from my freezer. This is simply chopped fresh herbs from last year’s garden placed in an ice cube tray and topped with olive oil. If I were making this brown rice on the stove top I’d saute the rice using the herbs & oil from this herb bomb. But today’s meal will be cooked in the solar oven & I was interested in just dumping the ingredients & walking away. So I plopped an herb bomb in with the rice & broth and gave it all a stir.
The pot with the rice was covered with a see-through top and then placed on top of the pot with the chicken mixture. It’s all gonna cook at the same time! I positioned my solar oven toward the sun and then placed this double-stacked pan inside and closed the solar oven door. Now I’m free to tend to my other tasks for the day.
Adjusting The Solar Oven
I checked about 30 minutes later to see how my temps were doing and I was only up to about 250 degrees. (thumps forehead!) I forgot to adjust the tilt for summer cooking. You see, in the winter months the sun is much lower in the southern sky. But as summer comes along that sun gets higher & higher. Although I’d pointed the reflectors toward the sun, I needed to adjust the tilt of the oven as well. The newer solar ovens have a sun tracker attachment (I *SO* want one of those!) After my adjustments were made the oven heated to about 325-330 degrees.
With the see-through lid on the brown rice I’m watching for all the water to be absorbed into the rice. When I see that, I know it’s done! But condensation was beginning to cover the inside of the oven glass. This will keep the temps down since not as much of the sun’s energy can go through the glass when it’s covered with condensation. So I took a tip from the Sun Oven folks. I got a wooden chopstick and placed it between the glass & the rubber seal. That broke the seal ever so slightly allowing some of the moisture to escape. The condensation disappeared and then I was back on track again.
Supper Is Served!
All in all my chicken & rice was done in just under 2 hours, but I think 1.5 hours would be more realistic if I’d made the tilt adjustment before cooking. Your time will certainly vary based on many variables. How high the sun is in the sky, what cookware you’re using, how often (if at all) you adjust your oven’s position to track the sun, etc. But here’s the great thing about this dish: When the liquid is gone from the rice, you’re done!
I’m loving my solar oven and as the summer months get closer I’ll be using it more & more. Stay tuned for more great solar cooking recipes!
SOLAR COOKING: Southwest Chicken w/Herbed Brown Rice
I love cooking with the sun! This Southwest Chicken w/Herbed Brown Rice couldn't be easier. Toss in the ingredients, give a quick stir and let the sun do the rest!
- 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, chopped
- 1 cup Black or Pinto Beans , drained & rinsed
- 1 cup Whole Kernel Corn , drained
- 1 cup Chunky Salsa
- 1 14.5 oz can Rotel Tomatoes , undrained
Brown Rice Mixture
- 1 cup Brown rice
- 2 cups Broth
- 1 Cube herb bomb (or minced herbs of choice)
- Salt to taste
Set up solar oven. Use double-stack enamelware pans with see-through lid.
Mix all ingredients for chicken into one pan. Mix all ingredients for rice in another pan. Stack rice pan on top of chicken pan. Cover with see-through lid.
Place covered stacked pans in solar oven and cook until liquid is absorbed from rice pan (about 1.5 - 2 hrs).
Carefully remove pans from solar oven and bring them into house. Fluff rice with fork and place serving on plate. Top rice with SW Chicken mixture. Enjoy!
Looking for other solar cooking posts? Try:
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