Sometimes, you just want something different for a side dish with your steak and what better root vegetable to use than the rutabaga? They're delicious mashed and make a great substitute for potatoes -- and, they're low in carbs. Best news, yet, they have a wonderful thick waxy coat that makes them last almost forever in your fridge, so take advantage of sales and stock up. The downside? They are probably the densest of the root crops and that means you have to plan your solar cooking times and do your best to take advantage of peak winter solar hours (10am thru 2pm). The upside? Well worth it. A fix-it-forget-it dish that will also cook up within two hours, if the rutabagas are sliced thinly.
One of my Christmas presents was a Gordon Ramsay Square Grill pan and I just had to try it out. (My link takes you to a QVC ad but there are many other places to find one. This link included a picture of the press, as well.), so I decided to add some steaks to the meal and use my sous vide adaptation for the pre-cooking. I'd been using a regular skillet for final searing and wanted the grill marks without having to fire up the grill to complete a process. The press is cast iron and promised to do a fine job with the markings.
Rutabagas and Onions
2 medium rutabagas, quartered and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice of one orange
Hot water to cover
1 tablespoon butter
While solar oven is preheating, prepare rutabagas and onions. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, except water, and mix until all vegetables are coated. Pour into baking dish and cover with hot water.
Cover with baking dish cover or use tin foil to seal. Place in solar oven and bake for 2.5 hours or until rutabagas are fork tender. Remove excess water, add butter, mash, and serve.
Solar Sous Vide Adaptation for Steaks
I had steaks in the freezer that had been defrosting overnight in the refrigerator. They were ready for my solar sous vide baking adaptation and all I did was add the "X" to the outside of the bag at the thickest part of the meat for the meat thermometers. Since the thermometers leave a tiny hole when removed, I added the clear-tape tab for sealing the bag before plunging it into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. It's far easier and more efficient to do this before baking because those steaks come out hot and you want fast-action when they're done.
I added them to the solar oven when I checked on the rutabagas. They reached 145F (medium-rare) in 25 minutes. Dinner was at least seven hours away but the steaks would be ready for searing. After plunging into the ice-cold water, they were returned to the refrigerator until dinnertime. When ready for searing, each steak was removed from the bag, dried with a paper towel and coated with a salt-and-pepper mix, then placed onto the preheated Gordon Ramsay Grilling Pan for 2.5 minutes on each side. I am happy to say that the pan was a success. Did I mention that the press was HEAVY?
Dinner was rounded out with sweet peas and acclaimed a success. The steak, when sliced, was a perfect texture from side to side and top to bottom, just like your favorite restaurants! Doesn't that looks plump and juicy? Yum.