Thursday, September 13, 2007
Work Snacks: Oven-Dried Charantais Melon
My sister's friend Tom is the (un?)official melon man at the Saturday farmer's market Happy Boy Farms stand. He's been generous with samples and melon advice all summer, so when I ran into him on Saturday en route to the Happy Boy stand and heard that someone had just stolen $100 from the Happy Boy cash box, I was even more determined to buy melons before the season ended. I picked up three small charantais melons ($7 back in the Happy Boy cash box, you soulless thief!), which are so densely flavored that sometimes I forget I'm not eating a butternut squash. We love the dried melon from Full Belly Farm, so we decided to try it out on our own, undeterred by recent oven-drying mishaps. (Apparently dried melons also have their fair share of haters, presumably because the drying intensifies that meaty, musky flavor. Whatever; people are crazy). And-YAY!-we emerged unscathed from this oven-drying experiment, with a nice heap of dried melon for mid-afternoon noshing.
We took a two-pronged approach: slicing half of the melon as thin as possible to dry on top of the stove, and slicing the remaining melon 1/2-inch thick to dry in the oven.
We stovetop-dried the thinly sliced melon for 5 hours while roasting tomatoes in the oven, then finished them by briefly oven-drying on 200 for 10 minutes. The result: Terra-Chip-like crisps of paper-thin melon.
The thicker slices went in the oven on 175 for 4 hours, and we flipped the slices over halfway through cooking. Then we turned off the oven and let them sit overnight. The trick is to use the hot oven to get the melons close to finished, then take away the heat at first sign of burning and let them coast. The result: dried-apple-like consistency with heavenly melon scent.