I was tempted to just throw a potato in the sun oven and call it a day. I was still pretty tired from yesterday’s yard sale and we were out late last night. We had dinner with my cousin, Liz, and her friends. She lives less than ten miles away and yet we hadn’t seen each other in over ten years. Thanks to Facebook, her sister on the east coast told her about our yard sale so she came over to visit and shop.
Liz invited us round to her house for the evening telling me that her friend who had recently moved here from NYC would be making porchetta. We graciously accepted her invitation but I secretly thought she was making the whole porchetta thing up. This happens to be one of the foods I miss most from Italy and I know you can’t get it anywhere in Arizona.
You can imagine my surprise when her friend showed up and pulled the most beautiful piece of meat I’ve ever laid eyes on out of a bag. I had to know who her source was.
Well, like I said, she just moved here from NYC and she brought the roast with her! Her husband imports Italian foods. Apparently, according to my cousin, I am now one of the lucky few that can get their hands on one of these cuts of meat. When I do I will definitely cook it in the solar oven.
So, back to today’s solar cooking. With a nice chunk of leftover porchetta in the fridge our dinner’s main dish is pretty much covered. I thought it deserved something better than a boring baked potato to go with it.
Making risotto in the solar oven is an idea I’ve been toying around with for quite some time. I decided today was the day to go for it.
When it comes to risotto I’m a bit of a purist. I’ve always made it the traditional way, on the stove, stirring for the entire 20 minutes it takes to cook. I have recipes for pressure cooker risotto, acquaintances claim that it can be made in the microwave, and many insist that using brown rice is perfectly acceptable, but I would have none of it. It took solar cooking to finally find the courage to break from tradition.
The following recipe is a bit of a hybrid, it starts out on the stove and is moved to the solar oven to complete the cooking.
Solar Oven Risotto with Butternut Squash Sweet Potato and Sage
1 medium sweet potato peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 small butternut squash, halved, seeds removed, cut into 2 inch pieces.
2 tbs butter
½ cup chopped onion
3 fresh sage leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Put sweet potato and squash into a dark roasting pan with a little water. Cover and place in pre-heated solar oven until soft. About 30 minutes at 350º
Remove squash and sweet potatoes from pan. Peel squash. Put both vegetables in a bowl and mash. Set aside.
Heat broth in a small sauce pan
Melt butter in a dark pot. Add chopped onion and sage and cook until onion is soft. Add rice, stir to coat with butter. Add wine. When wine has evaporated add half the broth, stir and transfer pot to solar oven. Keep broth warm while rice cooks. After ten minutes add the rest of the broth and squash mixture to the rice stirring to incorporate. After ten minutes test rice for doneness. When rice is ‘al dente’ remove from solar oven. Stir in grated cheese. Adjust for salt and serve.
So I proved to myself that it is possible to make a decent risotto in a solar oven. But there is one major drawback. Risotto should be eaten immediately. This means either a very early dinner or having it for lunch. Since I don’t really like to eat early and generally have a light lunch I will most likely go back to the old fashioned way of making risotto and leave the solar cooking to dishes that are enhanced by it.