On September 17, 2015 I co-led a trip to the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina with a group of 8 hikers from Central Indiana Wilderness Club to hike a section of the Art Loeb Trail. We were on the trail for 2 days and had three prepared backpacker meals on the trail.
Besides my goal to keep pack weight low, there are other considerations for this trip. One, the water sources are not plentiful, so we needed to minimize the amount of water needed for preparation and clean-up. Two, this is bear county and bear canisters are required, so storage space was limited. Therefore, re-hydrating our meals in zip lock freezer bags is the only way to go.
I wanted to have a hearty meal for our Saturday evening meal after we’ve hike 10 miles. Brunswick Stew, with its flavor depth seems like a good choice. It would be a bit cool in the evening, so I hoped this will hit the spot (and it did).
I adapted a recipe from hisblessedkid.com by reducing the butter so it dehydrated more completely. I also used turkey bacon to decrease dehydration time. The picture shows diced potatoes, but I replaced them with shredded potatoes as the cubes don’t re-hydrate well.
I also added 2 tablespoons Penzy’s North Woods spice and 4 tablespoons Vogue Cuisine Vegetarian Chicken Soup Base for some extra flavor. The homemade barbecue sauce is pretty tasty by the way and I took some for people to add to their meals as desired. Some shredded cheese and barbecue Fritos to crush into the stew or to eat on the side made this a crowd pleaser.
After dehydrating 1 1/2 cup portions in my Excalibur Dehydrator I packaged them in Zip Lock Freezer Bags. On the trail we added enough boiling water to just cover the contents and let sit for 3-5 minutes to re-hydrate. Eating straight out of the bag saved the need use extra water to wash dishes. I brought back the bags to rinse and recycle.
Of course you can just have this for dinner before you dehydrate. This is enough for at least 10 servings.
BRUNSWICK STEW – adapted for dehydrating
IN SAUCE PAN, OVER LOW HEAT, MELT:
½ stick butter
2 cups Catsup
1/4 cup French’s Yellow Mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoons coarse grind black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup dark brown sugar
SIMMER FOR AN HOUR OR TWO WHILE YOU MAKE THE STEW
IN A DUTCH OVEN OR STEW POT, HEAT
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
ADD TO THE POT:
1 cup small diced onion
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) chicken broth
meat of one rotisserie chicken – finely shredded (no chunks)
¾ pkg diced turkey bacon (will dehydrate better due to low fat content)
2 tablespoons Penzy’s Northwoods seasoning or 1 tablespoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
4 tablespoons Vogue Vegetarian Chicken Soup Base or other chicken bullion
BRING TO BOIL, THEN REDUCE HEAT
1 (8 1/2 oz.) can early peas
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1/2 cup prepared sauce (from above recipe)
1 16 oz. can of baby lima beans
1/4 cup Liquid Smoke
1 (14 to 15 oz.) can creamed corn
SLOW SIMMER FOR 2 HOURS THEN ADD
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes during last 10 minutes of cooking – if you add them earlier they will be too mushy
Spread 1 ½ cups of stew onto silicon sheets and dehydrate at 155 degrees for 12 hours or until completely dehydrated. Place each serving in Zip Lock quart freezer bags. Store in freezer until time for the trip.
At camp boil water and just cover stew mixture. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to each bag and let sit 3-5 minutes until re-hydrated (put in cozy if available to keep hot). Add additional barbecue sauce and crushed red pepper to taste. Sprinkle in the Fritos and some shredded cheese just before eating. Yummy!