Saturday, August 22, 2009

Solar Cooking, Almost Foolproof

Last night's chicken and rice was so good I wanted more. I had plenty of leftover chicken but no rice, so the question was, how to repeat the delicious rice without cooking another chicken on top of it? I figured a good part of the tastiness of last night's rice was from the chicken fat. It blended in giving the rice a silky, creamy consistency, and the touch of lemon hadn't hurt either. For tonight's rice I decided to try using butter. It's what all the restaurant chef's use to keep us coming back, so why not?
My plan was to cook the rice, then add the leftover chicken once the rice was cooked. It would still be early enough for the oven to heat back up and keep the food warm until 7p.m. I combined the rice, some chopped onion, chopped frozen asparagus and butter in a pot with some chicken broth. I forgot there would be no chicken to provide extra juices and only used 2/4 cup of broth for 1 cup of rice. When I opened the oven about half an hour later the rice had absorbed all the broth and was on the verge of-dare I say-burning. I thought for sure I had a disaster on my hands, but another thing I learned from Paul Munson of Sun Ovens Int. is that solar cooking is very forgiving. I threw in a little more broth, gave the rice a good stir, placed the leftover chicken on top, put the lid back on, closed the oven and hoped for the best.
Was it the best rice I've ever made? No, but it wasn't bad. I could have used more broth to begin with. I also could have used a little lemon juice or maybe some zest. But imagine what would have happened if I'd left a pot of rice unattended on the kitchen stove indoors with an insufficient amount of liquid. At best I'd have ruined a good pot and at worst burned down the house.

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