Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunny with Meatballs

I don't make meatballs often. Mostly because I hate browning the little suckers before putting them in the oven. That, and the fact that it seems like a stretch to claim a dish is solar cooked if the bulk of the cooking is done in a frying pan on the stove. So when I found a recipe in the soon to be defunct Gourmet magazine that went straight to the oven, no browning required, I decided to give it a try.
I made a batch last week but when they were ready to go into the Sun Oven clouds had rolled in and it was obvious that it would be one of Arizona's rare overcast days. In a way that was fortunate because it turns out the only thing I liked about the original recipe was the no browning part.
I believe I made enough modifications to call this recipe my own. A few more tweaks and it may very well become a regular at our dinner table.

Solar Oven Meatballs and Red Sauce

1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup red wine
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbs minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp salt

1 26 oz. carton Pomi strained tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs fresh basil, chopped

Soak breadcrumbs in the wine. In a large bowl combine with next eight ingredients, beef through salt. Form 12 meatballs. Place meatballs in a dark square baking pan big enough to accommodate them without crowding. Pour strained tomatoes and salt over the meatballs. Cover with tin foil. Place in Sun Oven and cover pan with a dish towel. After about 30 minutes remove dish towel and tin foil. Continue cooking, uncovered, for another 30 minutes. Remove from Sun Oven and stir in basil. Serve over spaghetti with additional freshly grated parmesan cheese.

The dish towel trick comes in handy whenever you want to cover something with tin foil or if you need to use a shiny pot. Without the dish towel the sun's heat would be deflected and the food may not cook. Trust me, I speak from experience.

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