Sunday, January 20

Winter Chicken Casserole and Wonder Box

Solar cooking in the winter requires planning. With the lower trajectory of the sun, your peak cooking time is from ten a.m. through two p.m. That doesn't mean you can't cook a little earlier or later. What it does mean is that you might have to combine your energy-saving methods when you lose track of time and decide to start solar cooking at two-thirty in a winter afternoon! I'm not going to mention who did this but I'm sure that even without psychic powers you can figure it out. I used a two-quart Dutch oven filled almost to the top for the casserole, as you can see from the photo.

There was nothing extra special about the ingredients, just a combination of chicken, carrots, onions, celery, and red pepper, with rice. The sushi rice was pre-soaked for fifteen minutes before cooking and was ready to be added to the other ingredients when it was time. While the rice was cooking, I sautéed the onions, pepper, carrots and celery in a tablespoon each of lard and butter, in a heavy skillet; then, added the chicken and let the mixture cook for another two to three minutes. The rice was just underdone but ready to be added to the skillet. For extra liquid, I had blended one egg with 3/4 cup of chicken broth, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup white wine (optional), 1/8 tsp fresh rosemary, 1 tsp fresh oregano, 1 tsp fresh thyme, 1/4 tsp dried stevia, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1/4 tsp mace, and then poured it over the chicken mixture in the saucepan.

Now, I could have sautéed my ingredients in the bottom of the Dutch oven, but a two-quart pot was just too small and I was afraid the high sides would have steamed the veggies rather than sautéing them. I did, however, preheat it with hot water before transferring all the ingredients from the skillet.
The casserole was placed in the 225F solar oven and baked from two-thirty until three-fifteen, when the sun disappeared over my roof and I had to finish it up in the Wonder Box. Of course, I could have used my conventional oven but I prefer to save energy whenever I can and that's what the Wonder Box is for; right?

What I should have done was use a more shallow casserole pan for a winter casserole and started baking around ten a.m., but I like testing the limits and, of course, I knew I had both the Wonder Box and my conventional oven to finish baking, if necessary.

It's been a very busy January getting stock ready for the opening of the Market in April, but some things can't be put off when you're the only one doing the work. Will be adding one or two new items and having plenty of my SolarCubs(tm) to help introduce solar cooking to everyone.  I hope you'll give this recipe a try and let me know what ingredients you changed, if any.


  1. Wow, another great solar recipe from you Charlene. You are just endlessly creative. I can't wait to see what you come up with next. You have a good week now. Terria

    1. Thank you, Terria. Always nice to hear from you and follow all your good works. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Yummy!! That looks so delicious!! I am so glad to see you using your wonder oven. I love mine. It keeps things deliciously hot and can even finish cooking. One night last week, my husband threw it into the car and used it to keep "take out" hot on the way home. Worked perfectly.

    1. OMG! **Forehead slap!** Why didn't WE think of this? Of course, it's absolutely perfect for keeping 'take-out' hot on the way home. You know what that means... I'm make another one to be kept in the car for those spontaneous moments. The shape will be different but the end result the same... Can't wait for the day I discover what to do with the other end of the can opener! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. really looks delicious! :) lard AND butter... oh.. .that has to be sooo good. :)

    1. Oh, it is and helps cut the taste and in some strange way doesn't get as hot as straight lard so it carmelizes better. Thanks for stopping by. Always love catching up with your crafting, too!

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