The Day Superman Got a Sun Oven
Our Garden Named a 'Native Plant Butterfly Garden' by Wild Ones

Cooking Meat, the Solar Way

Chicken and Herbs

By Lisa Brunette

Last time we mentioned solar cooking, we introduced you to the sun-sational (that pun can't help itself) Sun Oven and showed you how we used it to cook a pot of rice. This time I'm all about the meat, which turns out to be a great thing to cook the solar way.

Solar cooking is similar to slow-cooking in a crockpot, in that the process happens over some number of hours, allowing the meat to cook at a pace that retains its juices. I know a lot of people don't like this word, but moisture, you know. Let's start with a whole chicken.

Chicken in Sun Oven

Because I'm basically slow-cooking this clucker, I added whole stalks and fronds of herbs, as shown in the photo at the top of this post. I didn't bother to chop these, as I'm just using them to permeate the meat, a sort of steam-sauna effect. I used the common culinary herbs oregano and sage, which grow on our hügelkultur herb mound. I also included yarrow, or Achillea millefolium, for its health benefits, as well as a bit of Echinacea purpurea, or coneflower (that's the pink floral note you see tucked in there). Call my approach 'food medicine.' Underneath the bird is a cup of chicken stock (bone broth) we previously made ourselves, which helps with the you-know-what!

I know this is chicken, and you're worried about cooking it to the desired temperature to kill any pathogens, so here's a look at that thermometer quickly climbing upwards.

Chicken in Sun Oven 2

Note the use of a black pot. You don't want to use white enamel, steel, or anything else that reflects the sun's rays; the point is to absorb them. After trying out our solar oven for a time, we decided to splurge on the nested pots the company also sells, which work perfectly in the Sun Oven.

Sun Oven Pots

Like I said in our intro post on the Sun Oven, you do need to rotate it as the Earth rotates, keeping it aligned with the sun's position in the sky. But other than that, once you stick the whole pot into the oven, it's pretty much a hands-off baking experience.

Chicken in Sun Oven 3

Our bird took only a couple of hours to bake because it was July, with the sun closest to us, and it was a hot day in the upper 90s (F). Yours might need a few hours or even all day, just like a crockpot. I've read of many people using the Sun Oven in the exact same way, in fact, setting it up in the morning before they leave for work and coming home to a fully cooked meal. You won't be able to rotate the oven to keep alignment with the sun, but since it has all day to cook, that works out fine.

The herbs I'd added show you how well the Sun Oven works, but rest assured, the bird itself was till plenty moist.

Chicken in Sun Oven 4

This summer we also cooked a beef roast, which worked out well for us. It was a tougher cut that became tender through the slow-cooking Sun Oven process.

Beef in Sun Oven

I know these pictures speak louder than my words, but to give you an even better visual, here's a video of the meat bubbling in the pot.

One caveat to all this super awesome sun-based cooking: Just like with any other type of solar power, it is highly dependent on the sun. That means if the clouds come in, you might have to make other arrangements. The third type of meat we tried to cook in the Sun Oven was a rabbit. Because we'd had such rapid baking times on the chicken and beef, we started the rabbit rather late in the day. Unfortunately, as can happen quickly here in the Midwest, the weather shifted, and we had to finish the rabbit inside, in our conventional oven.

Rabbit in Sun Oven

As you can see, it was a really big rabbit, and we should have planned to give it more time just in case the weather changed. But still, it was a great experience, as it showed us the limits of solar power, which are real.

Overall, cooking with the Sun Oven put us more in touch with the sun and how much we depend on it for life, in all ways. We've enjoyed baking with our Sun Oven, especially the peace of mind it gives us that should the power go out, we still have a way to cook our food. We highly recommend them!

As I've mentioned before, the Sun Oven is made in the United States of America, at a small company here in the Midwest, which has been producing them for 31 years. To learn more, see their Sun Oven FAQ.

Brunette Gardens is a proud Sun Oven affiliate. If you purchase using this link, we might earn a commission, at no extra cost to you.