Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Solar Cooked Pork Butt Roast

Although the calendar says summer still has another week or so to go, most of us think of summer as being over once the school year starts up again. And even though school is far far behind me, school supply sales, hearing the buses rumbling in the early morning and afternoon, and the slightly cooler nights still give me that dreaded sinking feeling that summer is once again over and it's time for homework and tests and cafeteria food and teachers I don't like. Rick and I homeschooled our daughters, too, which makes it seem even stranger that after all this time I can still feel so melancholy about the transition from summer to fall. 

I hardly used the solar oven all season, too. I know it's possible to use it year round, as many people do (I'm jealous), but even so, that's difficult where I live. Well, it's always a bit difficult since my yard is so small and so shady. Summer is really solar cooking time for me with its long sunny days when I can chase the sun around the yard (or, rather, I can have Rick chase the sun around the yard!). Unfortunately, long sunny days didn't seem to happen all that much this summer. When it was super hot and sunny and perfect solar cooking weather, we were traveling with the band or otherwise engaged. When we were home, it seemed to be raining constantly. Monsoon-type raining. We missed Wednesday band practice several times because it was too nasty, the rain so heavy you couldn't see, for Erica to even attempt driving the 10 miles to our house. Rick pretended to be in the Matrix when he dodged lightning while running on the beach one day (the storm started up unexpectedly while he was still 2 1/2 miles away from home), his heart monitor showing a spike in his heart rate of 216 beats per minute as he raced to get off the beach. I tried to go rescue him, but couldn't get the car close enough because the water was over the tires as I neared the beach parking lot. I got out of the car and started wading to the gate, but the thunder and lightning sent me scurrying back to the safety of the car.

But I woke up this morning to bright sunshine and just happened to have a pork butt roast in the fridge, just waiting to be put out in the solar oven. I found a recipe on for cooking pork tenderloin in a slow cooker, but changed it ever so slightly for solar cooking. And at a $1.39 a pound, the pork butt roast was a better deal than the more expensive tenderloin. Plus, pork butts are among the best cuts of pork for slow cooking because of their marbling, so it was a good choice for cooking outside in the solar oven.

Solar Cooked Pork Butt Roast
Pork butt roast ready to be placed in the solar oven
2 1/2 lb. pork butt roast 
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 onion, sliced thin
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons dried minced onion (optional)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the pork in a black pot (if solar cooking).
2. Pour water, wine, and soy sauce over the pork.
3. Add the sliced onions to the pot.
4. Mix the minced garlic, dried onion, thyme, salt, and freshly ground pepper, kind of mashing it all together. Then sprinkle/rub the mixture over the top of the roast.
5. Cover and place in the solar oven for at least 4 hours or until browned and done.

Solar oven sitting in the garden walkway,
sun tea brewing nearby.
This dish took hardly any time to prepare. I placed the pork outside at around 10:30 a.m. and brought it inside in the late afternoon, around 4:30 p.m. We weren't ready for dinner yet, so I reheated it at 6:00 pm. I simply simmered it on the stove for a few minutes until the juices were hot again, added some cornstarch to thicken the juices up, sliced (well, pulled pieces off) the pork, and served it up. Ta da! Nice and easy. And the pork was so tender! So, you can eat this meal as soon as it's done from the solar oven or, if you have to, reheat it for just a few minutes so the juices get hot.
My shadow as I take a photo
Roast is browning very nicely, yum!