My Solar Cooker is a Cloud Magnet!
(St. Louis, MO)
My second attempt at cooking with my solar cooker went better, but it still wasn’t what I had dreamt up in my mind! But, really, what new experiences really ever live up to our initial expectations?!
My second attempt was on Thursday, July 3rd. I had left a whole chicken fryer on the counter all night to thaw. The next morning dawned fair and sunny…until, of course, 11 AM when I set the solar cooker out to preheat. Then clouds rolled into the area! It wasn’t overcast, but there were many white, fluffy clouds moving by. Normally, I would consider it a beautiful summer day, but it was not what I wanted for this next cooking attempt! I was terrified of eating raw chicken at the end of the day!
As I prepared my bird with a rub of salt, fresh thyme, rosemary, and garlic (with a squeeze of lemon for good measure), my cooker heated up. I believe it was up to around 200 degrees when I put it in. I had planned on using the 3 quart roaster that came with my Sun Oven, but the bird didn’t fit, so I had to use one of my black non-stick stock pots, which wasn’t ideal, but it was the best I could do. My other pots are stainless and quite shiny.
We were leaving for a playdate in the park, so I turned the cooker a bit past the point where the sun was at that time. I was so excited, I jabbered my friend’s ear off about my chicken at home, cooking in only the rays of the sun! I think she thought I was a little bit nuts, but, hey, I’m easily excited!
I’m happy to report that when we took the chicken out of the cooker at around 5:30 PM, the meat was literally falling off the bone! The aroma of garlic and herbs was wonderful! Everyone in my family gave it a thumb’s up—which almost never happens with all of us! But even my kids happily ate it! The only complaint was that it was somewhat dry, and I think that’s because my pot didn’t seal tight and so a lot of steam escaped. (Indeed, the glass door was completely steamed over when I removed it.) Other remarks were to reduce the lemon and add more garlic, but that’s the recipe, not the solar cooker!
Overall, I was pleased to learn that the cooker does just as well on a partly cloudy day as on a totally sunny day. I was initially concerned about that, but even though the temperature in the chamber never got above probably 250 degrees, the chicken still was thoroughly cooked and quite tasty! One really can cook at lower temperatures…it just takes longer! Now I’m wondering when I could have taken it out. I left it in for about 6 hours. Maybe I should run some time trials, as long as my conditions were similar to this one, which—because it’s weather—would be nearly impossible to control! Does anyone know the minimum amount of time it takes for a whole fryer to cook in partly cloudy conditions?