Sun Oven: Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Today was about 43°, sunny and no wind. You know what that means???  Time for some more solar cooking!

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You can see I had many “kitchen helpers”.

We tried to do a pork roast about a week ago, but it turns out you cannot do this with wind at all. The big reflective flaps act like sails and away it flies. The wind actually flipped the Sun Oven. But it is very sturdy and wasn’t hurt.

So today I tried my usual chicken and broccoli casserole (I’ll put the recipe below). I normally cook this in the regular oven. The chicken and broccoli get pre-cooked, then put in a casserole dish in the oven for an hour at 350°. For today, I wanted to use no energy in the house whatsoever, so I started with raw chicken and frozen broccoli.

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The cinder blocks prevent any tipping from side to side. Using the prop in the back (very necessary for this time of year when the sun is low in the sky) makes the oven a bit tippy.

It was 43° outside, but the oven maintained about 300°. I cooked it for 4 hours and 45 minutes.  Dave said it tasted the same as when I bake it. We noticed however that the chicken was flakey, not so rubbery.  It’s possible it didn’t need to be cooked as long as I did, but it was all very moist and yummy.

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All done! Broccoli is tender and cheese all melty.

Then I still had some afternoon left, so I threw in another dozen eggs to hard boil. It took 70 minutes at 300°.

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These were cooked perfectly. You don’t actually boil them, just put them in the Sun Oven in the carton with no top (like in this picture). The orange specks are from condensation that dripped back onto the eggs, so I guess they are casserole drippings.

Recipe for the casserole
(serves 3, can easily be doubled) I let this cook for 4.75 hours total at about 300°:
One large, boneless whole chicken breast, cubed
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 cup of mayo
1 tsp curry
Mix all the above and put in casserole dish. Cook for 3/4 of total time. Then add:
8 oz frozen broccoli
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cook for about another hour.
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10 Responses to Sun Oven: Chicken Broccoli Casserole

  1. So cool, Julie! We have to build one of these solar ovens…a very good idea! The food looks great!

  2. Lisa says:

    So no precooking-great!
    Can you do bread or does it get flat and hard?

    • Julie Helms says:

      I have read a lot of people cook their bread in them. Suppose to be perfect, since there is no unit, the heat just surrounds the food. Supposed to be impossible to burn anything.

  3. Wow, this is pretty neat! At the temps you reached you could probably do a quick bread or corn bread. Yeast bread would be doubtful, imho. Julie, do you think this thing could be anchored down somehow so it would work in a small/moderate amount of wind? Maybe 1/10 days are less windy where I live. Ann

    • Julie Helms says:

      Sorry, I just saw your comment Ann. I have a cinder block on either side now that works for brief winds. I read that some people anchor the whole contraption with a bunji cord–we are going to try that. Eventually we are putting up a greenhouse and I plan to put it in there where there will be NO wind and it will be easy to store!

  4. danrshaw says:

    See how dumb chickens are. They didn’t even realize you had one of their relatives in the pot and when it was done put in some of their offspring. It looks like it did a great job on the casserole. I was just about over the envy of wanting one and now you had to go and talk about the Sun Oven again.
    Does it seem very durable in construction? Would it stand up to every day useage for very long?

    • Julie Helms says:

      I did pick up on that same chicken irony, too!
      I was actually very impressed with the construction of the Sun Oven. The black box (the oven itself) seems indestructible. The only thing I would worry about are the silver reflectors. I worry about them in wind. There is a balance between making this thing portable and yet sturdy. I tried to find any negative comments about the Oven before I bought and just came up with nothing, only good comments.
      I can imagine building a more permanent one with iron-strong reflectors, but it would have to be on a swivel to move with the sun.

  5. Laura says:

    Ahh; it’s reassuring that it really really works from scratch. It was a gorgeous day today!

  6. Isn’t that a bit cruel? Cooking their cousins next to them… 😉

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