Thursday, September 9

Solar Short Ribs with Carrot Coins and Spaghetti Squash

Solar Short Ribs, Carrot Coins and Spaghetti Squash
This is one of those ideal solar meals that can be cooked in a conventional oven, crockpot, or solar oven. Short ribs need slow cooking and low temperatures to break down the fibrous tissue to a melt-in-your-mouth experience. (If the fibrous tissue doesn't break down, imagine long-term chewing of dental floss...) This meal produces a table full of 'rollin' eyes and gnashin' teeth' (as they say in the country), after which you sit out on the porch to listen to home music and the old folks' tooth-suckin' wisdom... (urp!)  So, let's get started...

This is one of those two-step cooking processes.  You have to saute and sear the ingredients before adding to the pot for the long-term cooking.  Ingredients: I used one pound short ribs without bones, 1 medium chopped onion, 2 small sliced green peppers, 2 medium sliced carrots, 1 can of sliced mushrooms, 1/4 cup dark raisins, 1-1/2 cups Beef Base or stock, 1 tsp. yellow mustard, 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds, 1 tsp. parsley, 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, 1/4 tsp. ground mace, 2 Tablespoons orange marmalade, 1/4 cup red wine.  The spaghetti squash was small, so I decided to serve it, halved, to keep the juices from mixing in more than you might want.

Preheat your solar oven to 225F (FREE energy), conventional oven to 275F (15,000+ BTUs), crockpot on low (170F).  Save yourself a lot of flurry time by preparing the veggies and sauce before starting to saute. Chop the onions, slice the peppers lengthwise, slice the carrots into 1/8" coins, drain and dry the sliced mushrooms (or use fresh sliced), have raisins in eyesight or you'll forget them!  Place liquid and all herbs and spices into a two-cup measuring cup, blend and place in microwave on high for about 3 minutes. This will get it hot enough to pour over everything and allow the solar oven to start cooking, faster.

Clean and dry your short ribs and sear them in 1 Tablespoon of tallow/oil over med-high heat on all sides (this should take at least 20 minutes) in a saute pan.  You want a nice eye-appealing caramelized crust that adds some great texture and flavor to the meat. Once done, remove and place in bottom of roasting pan. Aren't they pretty!

Lower the heat of your saute pan to medium. Pour out excess pan drippings into a measuring cup (you may need to add some as you're sauteing) so that you have just enough left in pan to lightly cover the bottom, and return to heat. Add chopped onions (I've used red onions here, but any of your favorites will do) and sliced peppers; cook until just starting to get soft and peppers show seared marks. Sprinkle raisins over top of short ribs, then add onions and peppers.

Return saute pan to heat and add just enough pan drippings to lightly cover bottom. Place drained and dried sliced mushrooms in pan with enough room for them to sear and not steam. Turn over after checking one or two for doneness. Remove and place over ingredients in roasting pan.

Surround short ribs and sauteed veggies with carrot coins; add marmalade and wine to heated liquid in measuring cup, blend, then pour over contents in roasting pan. Cover and cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or longer (it will only make the meat juicier and more tender -- although, the carrots may just join the juice!)

Dinner's ready!

The main photo shows the dinner from the short rib side. Here's a photo from the carrot coin side. For the picture, I put a small bun bottom on the plate to catch most of the juices and make the photo more attractive. Without it, the juices kept making very shiny reflections that prevented you from seeing the texture of the meat and carrots. But, it did put me head's up on dunkin' and suckin'!  (Lordy! Where did today's posting come from????) This is also a chance to see the spaghetti sauce close up in its shell with seeds removed. Just slip your fork behind the strands and twirl like spaghetti. Comes right out and is delicious!

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