If you've ever wondered how restaurants get their meats cooked so evenly from side to side, it's because they use a pre-cook method called sous vide. Although I'm sure it will happen before long, right now, using this method at home can be very expensive. The equipment can run up to a couple of thousand dollars and using other home techniques requires constant vigilence and alot of fossil fuel energy. Unless, of course, you're using a solar oven and you follow my solar adaptation of sous vide cooking. For sides, please remember that I'm still trying to use up all those vegetables in my freezer from last year's harvests, so combinations are going to be very interesting for the next few months! Here we have a sirloin steak, quick-fried potatoes, green pole beans, and chard.
1. Slice up red potatoes however you want them finished. They won't lose their shape during the cooking process like the yellow or Idaho potatoes do. I sliced them like French Fries but you can dice them or cut into large chunks. Just make them roughly the same size.
2. Place potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Mix the following together in a small bowl: 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon cumin, 1/8 teaspoon Chipotle pepper (or to taste), 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon Stevia/sugar, and a pinch of cream of tartar (optional). Add mixed spices and herbs to potatoes and gently stir potatoes until all potatoes are coated. Place in quart-sized vacuum bag and seal, only. Do NOT remove air in a vacuum seal.
4. Place in pre-heated solar oven, using SolarWear for easy placement and removal. You can see that the oven has reached 325F here; but, because the steaks (2) were frozen, the temperature came down to 295F. Steaks in left pan, potatoes in right. They were put in the oven at 1:15 p.m.. At 1:45 p.m., the steaks were still cool to the back of my fingers but at 2:15 p.m., the steaks were done, so I brought them inside, removed the meat thermometers, and sealed the thermometer hole with the tape. Then, I let my cold well water run over them for a few minutes to stop any further cooking.
5. The oven has returned to 325F and I left everything alone until 4:00 p.m. when I had finished some work I was doing inside. 1:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. conventional oven - 11,000 BTUs; solar oven - FREE!
6. Spread out some paper towels on a dish or cookie sheet. Remove potatoes from bag and lightly blot with paper towels to remove moisture. Place 1 Tablespoon oil/butter/tallow in frying pan over high heat and add potatoes when surface begins rippling. If you want a real French Fry look, do this in small batches.
7. Remove steaks from bag and blot dry to remove any moisture. Pre-heat frying pan over high heat and let steaks sear on one side for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Steaks will actually move on their own when done right.
8. Turn steaks over and sear on other side for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Now, if you don't care for rare steaks, don't look at the next picture. I've included it to show how the steak is rare from side to side and seared on both tops and bottom, just like you get in the restaurant! The taste and texture is outstanding.