Monday, August 24, 2009

Solar Pinto Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

With a busy afternoon ahead of me I wanted to get my solar cooking going early today. Good thing I remembered to soak the beans overnight. I've been wanting to have beans for a few days now and kept forgetting to soak them.
This recipe is in two steps. The beans and sweet potatoes are cooked in separate pots and then combined in a dutch oven and left in the solar oven to slow cook, allowing the flavors to blend. By mid morning I was done with step one. I was now free to go about my business while the chili simmered in the sun oven. I wouldn't get home until early evening but it was nice to know there was a hot meal waiting for me in the back yard.
The recipe is from I made a few minor modifications, some intentional. The original recipe called for canned pinto beans, I used dried and I pureed the sweet potato mixture before combining it with the cooked beans. The original recipe also called for orange peel and chopped fresh cilantro to be added before serving . I had them all prepped and ready to go, well I was going to use lime since I didn't have an orange, but they're still in the fridge and the chili is long gone. I think the lime and cilantro would have made the dish exceptional so next time I'll try not to forget. Here's my version:

1/2 lb dry pinto beans soaked overnight
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2/3 cup water
1 14 1/2 oz can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes

and don't forget

3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tsp grated lime peel

After soaking overnight, drain the beans and place in a dark pot with enough water to cover approx. two inches. Place in pre-heated solar oven and cook until tender. Appox. 1 1/2 hour.
Heat oil in a separate pot. If possible use pots that will fit in the solar oven together. Add chopped onion to heated oil and sauté until the onion is soft. Stir in chili powder. Add water, sweet potato and tomato. Cover pot, place in solar oven and simmer until sweet potato is tender. Approx. 45 minutes. Remove sweet potato mixture from oven, transfer to a large dutch oven and puree with a hand held blender until smooth.
Drain the cooked beans reserving cooking liquid. Combine beans with pureed sweet potato mixture in dutch oven. Add enough cooking liquid to achieve the desired consistency. Return dutch oven to the solar oven. Solar cook it for at least an hour for the flavors to blend or leave it in the oven until dinnertime. Mix in cilantro and lime peel and season to taste with salt an pepper.

The corn was also solar cooked. Just wash it, without husking it, and put it in the solar oven next to or on top of the dutch oven.

1 comment:

  1. When I first started hearing about solar cooking, I was immediately intrigued. But its advocates said repeatedly how much more flavorful food is when cooked in a solar oven, and (this is a confession, now) my thought was, "Okay crunchy tree-hugger, if you say so..." So I got my solar cooker a couple weeks ago and have experimented with fine results. But last week, I cooked pinto beans in the solar cooker, and oh my goodness, they may have been the yummiest pinto beans I've ever had. So flavorful, with nothing but garlic and water, and salt added after they were cooked.

    Furthermore, I picked up pinto beans and sweet potatoes AND cilantro at the farmer's market today, so needless to say I'm going to make this chili this week. Thanks!