Moroccan-Style Lamb Stew… a la Solar Oven

It’s no secret, I like to eat!  The good thing for me is that I’m not afraid to try new and exotic dishes whenever I travel!  Since I’m traveling in the US now, it makes sense that I learn to cook some of the dishes I really enjoy that are often difficult, if not impossible, to find in small town America.  With the internet and You Tube available anywhere your smart-phone has reception, it’s pretty easy to learn how to make just about any dish imaginable, as long as you can find the necessary ingredients!

Let me first make a *disclaimer,*… I do not claim to be a formally trained executive chef!  But I’m not afraid to try my hand at preparing dishes that some may consider “a bridge too far” while vehicle camping or Overlanding!  Let’s face it… just because you are car-camping or RVing doesn’t mean you have to eat hotdogs and hamburgers everyday!  A friend who happens to be a really great cook once told me, “if you can read and have an imagination, then you can learn to cook.”  I will take it one step further… if you can watch a video and have an imagination, then you can learn to cook!  A few years ago I traveled to Morocco and Greece, two countries that know how to make great lamb dishes.  It was at that time I really fell in love with lamb… the cooked kind mind you!  Since I love Lamb and spice… I decided to try my hand at a Moroccan-style lamb stew today for a late lunch!  I headed to the local Whole Foods Market and had the butcher section-up a pound of lamb shank for me.  I also picked up a few of the spices I was missing and headed back to my campsite.  Today’s meal was prepared completely outdoors with the use of a single burner butane stove (ChefMaster brand, $20) and a folding solar oven (SunFlair brand $90).

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The ChefMaster Butane one burner stove and the SunFlair Solar Oven.

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By adding a simple piece of metal grate to your stove you will be able to cook with a tin cup or canteen cup.

I’ve blogged quite a bit about solar cooking over the last few years.  If you are interested in learning more about solar cooking, just type in the word “solar” in my blog’s search window and other solar cooking post will appear.

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All the ingredients needed to make a Moroccan Style Lamb Stew.

The ingredients for the Moroccan-Style Lamb Stew are,

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound of cubed lamb shank.

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small onion

1 small tomato or small can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 can garbanzo beans

2 cups chicken broth

1 generous sprig of cilantro

To prepare, take the first 6 ingredients listed above and combine in a pot.  Stir in the olive oil and add the cubed lamb.  Sauté on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

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Browning the lamb before cooking in the solar oven helps the meat remain moist as you slow cook it.

The browning of the lamb before you place it in the solar oven helps seal in moisture as it slow cooks.

Next, chop your onion and add the rest of the ingredients listed above to the pot, then place the covered pot in the solar oven.  Depending on where you are and the time of year… your solar oven cooking temperature will differ slightly.  Today I cooked the stew for 2 hours at a temperature between 225 and 250 degrees f.  Remember, you will need to adjust the angle of your solar oven every 30 minuets or so to keep it best aligned with the suns rays.

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All the ingredients, ready to go into the solar oven.

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The SunFlair Solar Oven can be used just about anywhere! Today’s Lamb Stew was cooked for 2 hours at 250 degrees f.

I know some of you are saying… “Geez, that’s too complicated with too may ingredients.”  Truth is, all the spices listed above can be found in the small 1/2 oz size containers for less than a few dollars each and the only ingredients requiring refrigeration are the lamb, onion, tomato and cilantro.  It takes minimal prep-time and the results are well worth the effort.  The stew was incredible, the lamb was very moist and the dish had just the right amount of spice kick to it!  The recipe above made enough to serve two people!

So next time you are Car-Camping, RVing or Overlanding, break-out your smart-phone, search for a dish you like on You Tube, pick up the ingredients, turn on your imagination and try your hand at cooking a new dish, you might just surprise yourself and bring out your inner-chef!

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The finished lamb stew ready for consumption.

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The stew was delicious, with just the right amount of kick to it!

 

 

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Solar Cooking in Suburbia.

Anyone who has followed the blog knows that I love to cook with solar!  You really can cook with solar just about anywhere, all you need of course is the sun!  Many people believe you can only cook with solar in a rural setting?  Today’s post will demonstrate that with only a few square feet of space and the power of the sun, you can easily cook in an urban environment as well!  In fact, in some cases an urban environment actually helps when cooking with solar because you can often place the solar oven next to a wall which helps heat the oven more quickly.  Additionally, in an urban environment, the wind is often less of a factor because the many buildings block breezes which can lower the oven’s temperature. I have even cooked in a parking lot with a solar oven on the roof-rack of my truck.  As long as you get the oven temperature above about 165 degrees fahrenheit, you can cook almost any dish using solar, much like you would in a crockpot, that is to say…. slowly.  Many people new to solar cooking worry too much about exact temperature control when cooking different dishes.  They also worry that the solar oven will not get hot enough.  I suppose if you were trained at “Le Cordon Bleu” cooking school, then your instructor would be absolutely mortified if he learned you cooked your rack of lamb at too low of a temperature.  But for me, slow cooking most dishes is appropriate.

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The SunFlair Solar Oven in an Urban Environment.

Today, in uptown San Diego, I cooked my version of a Brazilian fish stew dish called “moqueca.”  I guess since I’ve been watching the World Cup Soccer Tournament for the last few weeks… it got me thinking about some of the delicious dishes I ate when I lived in Brazil!  Moqueca is basically a white fish stew with shrimp, coconut milk and tomato sauce.

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The main ingredients for Braziilan Moqueca.

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The Moqueca ingredients before going into the Solar Oven.

There are many different moqueca recipes on the internet, so I won’t list all of my ingredients.   The one variation I made was to use crab meat instead of shrimp.  The “Sunflair” solar cooker reached 225 degrees in about 30 minutes in the sun.  I only repositioned the oven once, in order to maximize the sun’s rays and after about 2 hours of cook time… the stew was ready!  Moqueca is typically served over a bed of rice!  Today’s solar-cooked “Moqueca” was absolutely delicious!

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The SunFlair Solar Oven up close.

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The temperature gauge, reached over 225 degrees fahrenheit.

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The final product, Brazilian Moqueca!

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Solar Options, The “SunFlair” Portable Solar Oven.

Being in Florida this time of year has given me the opportunity to test a few solar cooking options.  Cooking with solar today in Kentucky would be next to impossible, seeing that it’s 9 degrees fahrenheit and partly cloudy.  Here in the “Sunshine State” of Florida, it’s not a perfect day for solar cooking, but good enough.  It’s 54 degrees, breezy with full sun, warm enough for me to test my new “SunFlair.”  The “SunFlair” is a lightweight, portable, folding solar oven.  It weighs in at about 3 pounds and folds up small enough to fit into a bag the size of a reusable shopping bag.  The “SunFlair” seems to be well made and comes out of the box with everything you need to prepare a meal, minus the food.  Included are a thermometer, a small metal cooking rack, a baking tray and 2 collapsible silicon pots and a carrying-bag.  The silicone pots are rated up to 485 degrees.  I paid $99.00 for my “SunFlair” on Amazon.  The “SunFlair” website advertises a price of $119.00 as I type this post.

For more details about the “SunFlair,” checkout their website,

http://sunflair.net

The website has great cooking tips for anyone new to solar cooking!

Setting up the “SunFlair” solar oven takes less than 5 mins.  Simply remove the oven from the carrying-bag and unfold.  Then place the cooking rack in the oven, add the pot with food and thermometer, then zip-up the plastic lid.  It really is that simple!  Of course, food preparation time will depend on what you are making.  Today I made a chorizo and sweet pepper quiche, prep time about 10 mins!

After about 90 mins of “noon-time” slow cooking (160 degrees), the quiche was fully cooked!

Below are a few pictures of the “SunFlair” in action….

The “SunFlair” Solar Oven in the carrying bag.
The cooking rack, thermometer, and 2 silicone cooking pots.  One pot is expanded.
The “SunFlair” solar oven unfolded.
The “SunFlair” solar oven unfolded with cooking rack and pot.
Today’s lunch, chorizo and sweet pepper quiche.
The Quiche ready to go in the solar oven.
The Quiche after 90 mins of cook time.
The Quiche ready to eat!  It was delicious!

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