It’s rather unfortunate that Thanksgiving falls at quite possibly the worst time of year for solar cooking in North America. During the summer I often use my Sun Oven to roast a full sized turkey and the cooking times are comparable to any conventional oven. But even here in the Southwest the stakes are just too high to count on using the Sun Oven for my holiday bird in Novemeber. That said, as the big day approaches, I do use it as a test kitchen. Thighs, legs, or breasts are a good way to test any new seasonings before committing to a 15 pounder. Turkey Thighs with Fresh Herbs Ingredients 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage kosher salt and pepper to taste 2 turkey thighs, at room temperature Preparation Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Place a rack in a large, lidded, roasting pan; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the butter and the fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully slide your fingers under the skin of the thighs to loosen it from the meat. Rub the herb butter under the skin, dividing it evenly between the two thighs. Set the thighs, skin side up, on the rack in the baking pan. Rub with the remaining butter. Cover and roast in the Sun Oven until the meat is cooked, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
The holiday season may be long behind us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some solar roasted turkey. These thighs are just enough for dinner with some leftovers for sandwiches. It’s also a good way to try out new recipes without committing to a whole bird.
Sun Oven Citrus Turkey Thighs
2 turkey thighs (2- to 2 1/2-pounds) at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Flattening turkey and chicken breasts to an even thickness helps it cook faster and more evenly. If you don’t have a meat pounder you can use a small heavy frying pan or a rolling pin to get the job done. However you do it don’t be tempted to skip this step, not only does it improve the texture of the meat, it’s fun!
Sun Oven Turkey Roulades with Spinach and Prosciutto
6 (about 1 pound total) turkey cutlets
1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach, thawed
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons shredded Gruyere cheese
Sun Oven Roast Turkey Thighs with Sage and Garlic
2 turkey thighs
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Dash of white wine vinegar
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3 to 4 pieces
Combine the garlic, sage, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Cut deep slits into the turkey thighs. Rub the garlic mixture into the cuts and onto the surface. Place the thighs in a glass dish and refrigerate overnight. Take the thighs out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking and set the Sun Oven out to preheat. Scatter the potatoes and carrots in a roasting pan. Set the thighs on the vegetables and sprinkle with vinegar; cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the meat is fork tender, 2 t0 3 hours. Remove from Sun Oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings
The weather forecast for Thanksgiving Day here in Southern California isn’t looking favorable for solar cooking. I’m afraid this year I’ll have to plan on roasting my turkey indoors, but, if you are lucky enough to be in a part of the world where you’ll get enough sunshine, solar roasted turkey is as easy as it is delicious. When I lived in Arizona I was able to cook a 14 pound bird (unstuffed) in three and a half hours. Here’s how it’s done:
Remove the leveling tray from the Sun Oven’s cooking chamber and place a rack on the bottom of it. Put the seasoned turkey in an oven roasting bag, place a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, seal the oven bag, and place the turkey in the Sun Oven. Roast until thermometer reaches 180˚F. Carefully transfer cooked turkey to a large roasting pan. Cut bag open, allowing cooking juices to drain into the pan. Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let rest for ten minutes before carving. Use cooking liquid to prepare gravy. Enjoy!
It’s November, which means the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit has arrived with loads of new turkey recipes. Normally I just give it a quick glance; I haven’t been the one doing the cooking on the big day since we started going to my cousin’s place in Scottsdale a few years ago. This year I have no idea what we’ll be doing. It could be just the two of us, in which case we’ll probably have pulled pork and spend the day watching football. So leave it to the folks over at Bon Appétit to come up with not one, but four, turkey recipes that just shout out, “Pick me!”.
Not wanting to wait until the end of the month I decided to give the most intriguing one, Cider-Brined Turkey with Star Anise, a try today. Of course a whole turkey for two is way too much so I cut back on the brining ingredients and used turkey thighs. I imagine the brine would work well for chicken too. Click here for the recipe, very little needs to be changed to cook it in the Sun Oven.
The main dilemma was to baste or not to baste. As we all know, opening the glass door means longer cooking times, but would it come out just as tasty without basting? Plus, I was kind of hoping for crispy skin. In the end I decided not to baste. After all, if I’d made a whole bird it would have been in an oven bag and basting would not have been an option. The result was an incredibly moist, exquisitely season turkey with a not so crispy skin. Even with the soft skin I’d still say this is a keeper. The Asian inspired brining spices give the meat a unique flavor that will go well in sandwiches and salads.
I’m not a big fan of turkey but I make this lighter twist on meatloaf now and then for the sides; Chipotle Cranberry Sauce and Whipped Chipotle Sweet Potatoes. I bake the sweet potatoes in the Sun Oven alongside the turkey loaf or the day before.
Solar Turkey Loaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only
Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat.
Saute onion, carrot, celery and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Allow vegetable mixture to cool and combine with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Form into a loaf and place in a light-weight, dark roasting pan with a lid. Cover and bake in Sun Oven until internal temperature reaches 180ºF. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
With a Global Sun Oven, turkey and stuffing doesn’t have to be for holidays only. This method is even easier than the rolled up turkey breast from my previous post. I used turkey thighs but if you prefer white meat a breast would work just as well. Packaged stuffing mix means this dish can be thrown together in minutes and on a cloud-free day, solar cooked in about 2 hours.
Turkey Thighs and Stuffing
2 turkey bone-in thighs
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
salt and pepper
1 (16 oz) package stuffing mix
2 tablespoons melted butter, divided
I’m always on the lookout for recipes for meatballs that don’t require browning them in a frying pan. It’s messy and at least a few of them, if not more, fall apart in the frying pan. So I was eager to try this straight to the slow cooker or, in my case, Global Sun Oven, version from an old Weight Watchers book. The recipe, as written, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but it did give me hope for future batches of no-fry meatballs. The first thing I’d change would be the meat, ground turkey breast is too bland. I’d rather use a few extra points and eat something tasty. I’d also add a bit of oil or butter to the savoy cabbage the meatballs are cooked in for added flavor. Lastly, I’d eliminate the tomatoes; they overpower the sweet, mellow flavor of the savoy cabbage. However, despite all the drawbacks, I was impressed with how nicely the meatballs browned on top, and not a single one of them fell apart. As soon as I perfect the recipe, I’ll post it here.
In theory potpie filling is made with leftovers but I’ve never had enough excess meat and the inkling for potpie at the same time. If you have a lot of chicken or turkey meat on hand go ahead and skip the first part of this recipe. Potpie does not make regular appearances on our dinner table so I don’t have a go to recipe. When I do get a craving for it I thumb through my cookbooks and scour the internet for recipes that look appealing. This one uses the filling; with a few of my own touches; from one and the biscuit crust from another. If you want to make both the broth and the pie on the same day you’ll have to get an early start but it can be done. I like making the broth the day before and refrigerating it overnight; that way it’s easier to skim the fat off the top. It’s a hybrid recipe, the broth is solar cooked, the filling is not, then the pie is solar baked.
Solar Baked Turkey and Biscuit Potpie
For the broth
1 onion, cut into large wedges
2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into large pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into large pieces