Sometimes when the weather is a bit iffy I like to use my Dutch oven for solar cooking. If clouds do roll in, it’s easy to transfer to the stove. Browning the meat stovetop not only improves the flavor of the meat, it also preheats the pot which in turn reduces the over all cooking time.
Corsican Beef Stew
(adapted for the Sun Oven from Mediterranean Food of the Sun)
1 ounce dried mushrooms (preferably porcini)
6 cloves garlic, divided
2 pounds stewing beef, cut into chunks
4 ounces salt pork or thick bacon, cut into strips*
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
8 ounces (dry) macaroni or other similar shaped pasta
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Set Sun Oven out to preheat.
In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in warm water; set aside.
Cut 3 of the garlic cloves into thin strips. Use a sharp knife to cut 1 or 2 slits into each chunk of beef. Insert a piece of garlic and salt pork into the slits. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, add half of the beef and brown on all sides transferring it to a plate as it browns. Repeat with the remaining beef. Add the onion to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Mince the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and add it to the onions with the meat and any accumulated juices. Strain the mushroom reserving the soaking water. Stir in the wine, tomato paste, drained mushrooms, cinnamon, bay leaf, and rosemary. Strain the mushroom water through a paper towel and add it to the pot. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the beef is very tender, about 3 hours. Discard the rosemary sprig and the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Just before serving cook the pasta according to the instructions of the package. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef chunks to a warm serving plater. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce in the Dutch oven and the grated cheese.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
*Frozen salt pork or bacon will be easier to work with.