Cooking MEAT! FINALLY!
by James Wampler
(Shelbyville, Ky. USA)
After a few weeks of cooking pasta and vegetables, I ventured into cooking some meat this week. I typically don't consume very much meat, but when I do, it is usually fish or chicken.
Pros to cooking meat on a parabolic solar cooker:
It tends to cook quickly if the pan is preheated
Cons to cooking meat on a parabolic solar cooker:
If you have a cloudy day, and a cloud parks itself in front of the sun, cooking times go up quite a bit. Parabolic cookers probably do not hold heat as efficiently as a box solar oven.
(As I grow and learn, I might develop techniques to offset this difficulty, but it is one of the reasons I had to wait for the right conditions.)
This week, I decided to cook some pineapple chicken. The recipe is as follows:
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins or strips
skewers (if you are feeling fancy!)
Inititally, mix the pineapple juice, brown sugar and soy sauce. Simmer it on the solar oven, then transfer it to a container and allow it to cool.
Once the marinade has cooled, mix it with the chicken. It is suggested to let the chicken marinade for at least 30 minutes.
Transfer the marinated chicken to a preheated pan. On a clear sunny day, a parabolic solar cooker is very powerful and should pre-heat quickly.
Even though this recipe is setup to be used with kabobs on a coal or gas grill, I disposed with the skewers because they were fiddly. Depending on the size of your pan, you will likely have to break the ends off to fit.(On the plus side, the one skewer i DID use seemed to cook more efficiently than the others)
I covered my pan to raise the heat and steam cook the chicken that wasn't in the direct heat. If I were cooking for guests and not grading papers, I would rotate the chicken in and out of the hotspot for nicer looking tenders...but this is for my personal eating. As long as it is thoroughly cooked, and tasty, I don't care a whole lot about how it looks!
Check the chicken by pulling it apart and looking for white-stringy chicken.
Depending on whether or not you use skewers and rotate your chicken efficiently, you should be able to cook these tenders up in about 15-20 minutes.
I took 28 minutes because I'm paranoid and wanted to make sure that every part of every piece of chicken was completely done. I think WHEN i do this again, I'll back off on the time and try for more moist chicken. Overall, this was tasty!
If anyone out there has any constructive cooking tips, I'm all ears! For me, this is an opportunity to learn so that I can share my learning with students at the end of this year.