Solar braised lamb on a bed of polenta is about as good as it gets. I like to get the lamb done in the morning. That gives me time to let the sauce cool down making it easier to skim off the excess fat. Then I start the polenta later in the day and, during the summer months, leave it in the warm Sun Oven until we’re ready to eat. My method for Sun Oven polenta can be found here. The recipe can be cut in half and will be enough for two people.
Solar Braised Lamb Shanks with Herbs de Provence on a Bed of Sun Oven Polenta
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 lamb shanks
salt and pepper
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
4 to 5 pieces of dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
Using a Sun Oven will obviously cut back on energy consumption. Less obvious is the lighter workload of Sun Oven cooking. Take the example of polenta. Traditionally prepared polenta calls for almost an hour of continuous stirring, with a Sun Oven the stirring is cut back to a matter of minutes. The passive power of the sun does the rest. A large pot of solar cooked polenta can be used for meals throughout the week. Have some piping hot, while it’s still creamy, with butter and cheese or as a bed for solar braised meats. Let the rest cool and set. It will keep for several days in the refrigerator. It can be sliced up and grilled and served as a side dish or combined with other ingredients and baked like lasagna.
Creamy Sun Oven Polenta and Cheese
1 cup Sun Oven polenta (see recipe below) piping hot
Even with the uncertain weather we’ve been having I still managed to get some solar cooking done today. It was overcast when I got up but by mid morning the sun started peeking through the clouds and I set my Sun Oven up even though I still didn’t know what was going to go in it. By noon it was sunny enough to heat up some Sun Oven Split Pea Soup I had in the freezer for lunch. The afternoon skies were looking good, not great, but good enough for a pot of polenta to go with the Solar Boneless Beef Short Ribs (also from the freezer) I was planning on having for dinner. Tomorrow’s forecast still looks iffy, with a chance of thunderstorms throughout the day. Luckily next week is supposed to be sunny and hot – or what’s better known as typical Arizona weather – and I’ll be able to get back to solar cooking without worries. I can’t wait. I’ve got a few new recipes I’m dying to try out.
The solar no stir polenta from my previous post turned out to be an extremely convenient food to have in the fridge. The other day when I was pressed for time I sliced it up and put together this quick vegetarian meal. You could use pretty much any combination of cheese and veggies, just layer them in an oiled baking dish and bake it in the GSO until the cheese has melted and the polenta begins to brown. On this particular day I used leftover mixed greens that had been sauteed in garlic and oil, gorgonzola and parmesan cheese, and, of course, polenta. If you don’t have an oven bag handy you can seal the baking dish with foil and cover it with a tea towel.