The bacon adds flavor to this rich soup but can be omitted for a vegetarian version. It’s added after the beans have been cooking for a while and I often forget. I like it either way.
Sun Oven Cuban Black Bean Soup
1 pound dried black beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained
5 cups water
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon paprika
Mark likes his eggs on toast (I’m more of a “toast on the side so I can dip it into the yolk” kind of gal) so I decided to go ahead and bake the egg and toast together. I think it makes a nicer presentation. The eggs meld with the toast instead of sliding off like they do if assembled post baking.
English muffins would work great and if you don’t have the little metal mugs you could use a muffin tin or a baking pan. Get the bacon in the Sun Oven first thing in the morning. It takes about 40 minutes to solar cook it.
Baked Eggs and Toast
1 slice cooked bacon per serving (click here for tips on cooking bacon in your GSO)
1 slice sourdough bread or 1/2 English muffin per serving
I like this simple recipe for baked beans that I found over at epicurious.com. It has a hint of maple syrup without being overly sweet. It goes great with pulled pork.
Solar Baked Beans
1 pound dry navy beans, picked over and rinsed
1/4 pound piece salt pork, rind discarded*
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Pancetta is an Italian bacon. It’s not smoked and has no sugar added. Purists will tell you that you must use pancetta (or the even harder to find ‘guanciale’) to make a true Amatriciana sauce. I used to be one of them until I got tired of spending excessive time and money tracking down exotic ingredients. American bacon may add an untraditional smokey flavor to the sauce but it’s still good.
Amatriciana Pasta Sauce
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta or bacon, diced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans imported whole Italian tomatoes with their juices, chopped
Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese for serving
Confit may be a way of preserving food, but the batch I made the other day is almost gone, so I didn’t get a chance to put it to the test. So far we’ve had it with pasta (twice), in egg sandwiches along with some of the bacon, and with tonight’s twist on a traditional Italian soup. I thought the bacon infused tomatoes would give a bit of an American flair, a sort of Pork ‘n’ Beans meets Pasta Fagioli.
Pasta Fagioli All’Americana
1 1/2 cups dried cranberry beans, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for serving
I set my Sun Oven out first thing in the morning, even if I don’t know what I’ll be cooking, just so it will be ready when I am. Sometimes I toss in a pan of bacon too, because crispy sun cooked bacon always comes in handy at some point during the day.
Sun Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Bacon
1/2 pound bacon
1 1/2 pound fingerling potatoes
I read somewhere that bacon is the most commonly burnt food in restaurant kitchens. That used to be the same in mine too. In a frying pan it seems that it goes from ‘not quite done’ to ‘burnt beyond recognition’ in the blink of an eye. Bacon in the Sun Oven on the other hand is much harder, although still possible, to burn. It takes a little longer to cook it, but on the plus side your house won’t smell and the risk of a grease fire is zero.
All you need is a rimmed baking sheet or pan and a rack. Set the rack on the baking pan and drape the bacon strips on the rack. The pan will catch the grease and the rack will keep the bacon out of it. It will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour if you like it crispy. And once you have some crunchy, fragrant, cooked bacon on hand the sky’s the limit.