Roasting meat is easy in a solar oven. Not only does cooking with solar save money on electricity, but it makes the meat more tender and juicy than a conventional overn. We picked up a fresh 5lb leg of lamb yesterday, and since the sun’s out, I decided to roast it today. Here’s a rundown of how to roast meat a la the sun.
Step 1: Prepare the roast
Remove the packaging and netting, rinse under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the roast on a cutting board.
(Note about cutting boards — Glass or plastic work best for raw meat because they can be sanitized with bleach later. Avoid wood because the porous material holds onto bacteria)
Choose your seasonings and rub them liberally all over the roast. Today I chose rosemary, black pepper and sea salt. Other great choices for meats include mixed garden herbs, Indian “curry” mixes, or Spike.
Set up your solar oven to preheat (or preheat your regular oven if you don’t have a solar oven) to about 325 degrees F. Most recipes call for higher heat, about 400, but I strongly prefer the more tender meat that comes from lower, longer heat.
Step 2: Seal in the juices
Heat your roasting pan on the stove top at medium-high and add about 1 tbsp of oil. I use ghee or canola oil because they have a higher smoke point. Place the roast – fat side down – into the hot pan. Let it sizzle and crackle for about 3-4 minutes, or until browned. Turn over and repeat on the other side.
At the this point I also throw some chopped onions, garlic, carrots, celery and tomato into the pan and let them sautee.
Step 3: Slow and low
Now comes the roasting part. Check your oven’s temperature. It should be between 300 and 350 degree F. If it’s much lower, about 200 or 250, your roast will take a lot longer, but it will still cook.
For solar cooking, I use cast iron pots and pans exclusively. They are black and hold heat beautifully. They also lend a lightly smoky, outdoorsy flavor that your guests will rave about.
Cover the roast (don’t use aluminum foil for solar cooking as the shiny quality also reflect away heat!). Transfer the roast to oven, set a timer for 1 hour 30 minutes (for medium rare) and walk away. Enjoy your cool kitchen and lower utility bill to come while the roast cooks outside.
Step 4: Test and rest
Bring the roast inside and set it on the stove. Open the lid and slice into the middle. What color is the center? If it’s pink, you’ve got medium rare meat. Grayer and it’s more well done. Redder and you might think about returning it to the oven for a few more minutes.
Another easy way to test the meat’s doneness is to insert a thermometer. This will give you a more precise reading of the internal temperature. It will be easier to adjust to your preference this way.
Once the roast is how you like it, let it rest covered on the stove top for at least 30 minutes. Remember that during this rest period, the meat will cook a little bit more. It could take a medium-rare roast to medium. So keep that in mind while you’re testing.
After resting, the roast is ready to carve and serve. Enjoy!