This is the first dinner I’ve made for the trail. I need 20 in total (I’ll be eating dinner one night in a cafe at Red’s Meadow), and with 5 different meals planned, I’ll be making roughly 4 large portions of each.
This recipe will make a whole lot more than the 4 portions I need on the trip, so I’m dehydrating 10.5 cups (wet) and eating the rest in my house for “normal” dinner.
1 32 oz package macaroni noodles
2 lbs lean ground beef (sirloin)
2 C. chicken stock (1/4 cup reserved)
1 35 oz. can whole roma tomatoes
5 oz. tomato paste
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 package mushrooms, cut into pieces
1 onion, diced
1 C. diced carrot
7-8 garlic cloves, minced
1 TB (or to taste) dried oregano
1 TB (or to taste) dried basil
1 TB sambal (omit for no spicy)
1 TB (or to taste) dried parsley
Lots of salt and pepper
Put the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, and 1.75 C. chicken stock in a crock pot. Add the salt, pepper, sambal, spices and stir. Saute the onion, garlic and carrot with salt and pepper in .25 C chicken stock. Add to crock pot. Brown the ground beef very thoroughly, drain the fat, place into colander, and rinse very very well. As much of the fat needs to be off the meat as possible. Add to the crock pot. At this point, it still looks very appetizing (this will change…).
Cook on low for 4-5 hours and then pulse it with an immersion blender until completely smooth. No chunks of anything should remain. It will look like brown paste. This needs to be done for two reasons: it will allow everything to dehydrate at a uniform rate and as quickly as possible, plus the small “grains” of ground beef will re-hydrate much easier on the trail. Apparently ground meat has a distinction for turning very hard and being very difficult to re-hydrate, so breaking it down will make that whole process easier. Now you can add the mushrooms and let them cook for 15 minutes or so.
Now, 10-11 cups can be spread on the dryer racks (at least that was the case for my Nesco brand; the remaining pasta can be eaten at home, or dried in a separate batch) and dried for 15-16 hours at 145-150 degrees. It will look like this:
As you can see, you’re not going to lose a whole lot of mass with this meal. 10+ cups of pasta turned into roughly 8, and most of that loss came from water being drawn out of the sauce. The size of the macaroni stayed the same for the most part. This came out to 2 C of pasta per portion.
Post-Trail notes: This recipe turned out a little bland, so next time I will add more salt and dry some whole basil leaves separately and pack with the individual portions.