For camping, backpacking, hiking, homemade MREs, or long term food storage!
When I first started dehydrating food I did it because I didn't want to spend money on commercially prepared dehydrated or freeze dried food for my long term food storage. I thought it was a good way to save money. And, I was right! But, what I didn't realize at the time was that it wasn't completely safe to dehydrate red meat or chicken, or any meat or poultry for long term food storage. After a while meats can become rancid, even if dehydrated. The amount time it takes for that to happen depends on how they are stored. Such as storing in a zip lock baggie, vacuum sealed, or in the freezer.
Dehydrated meat/poultry shelf life:
Zip lock baggie - 2 weeks to 1 month
Vacuum sealed - 6 months to 1 year
Freezer - 1 year
Commercially prepared (freeze dried) - Up to 25 years
For myself, I dehydrate foods for MREs and long term food storage. See my conundrum here? So, I gave in and purchased a #10 can of freeze dried hamburger meat and a #10 can of freeze dried chicken breast chunks. Why? You might ask. The answer is simple. I wanted protein as well as flavor and substance in my MRE packs.
I searched and searched for recipes that I could use my dehydrated vegetables and the freeze dried meat and chicken with. Finally, after a couple of weeks, I found three that I decided to go with: cheesy chicken rice and broccoli; hamburger veggie soup; and chili. At least to start with, I'm sure I will make lots of different recipes with them.
Once I had all the dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients I needed on hand, I decided the best thing to do was test the recipes first. You know, to make sure they were going to work and that they would taste good. Especially since I have picky eaters to contend with. Even though in an emergency situation I'm sure they would eventually eat whatever was put in front of them if they were starving (at least I hope they would), I figured why not give them something tasty for as long as I could.
Since I've had kind of a rough week I decided to forgo filming the adventure and share it here on my blog with you instead. I might film making this recipe some time in the future, but it just wasn't to be for now. EDIT: I did film putting together this recipe on August 8, 2019, and there is a video of it below.
The first thing I did was gather all of the ingredients I would need for the recipe. Starting with the freeze dried chicken breasts.
I wasn't really sure how well these would re-hydrate since I'd never used them before. I was really surprised at how well they did! It tasted just as good as fresh and was not spongy or cardboardy at all.
To my surprise, the recipe only called for 1/4 cup of the chicken, which was half of what Augason Farms considers a serving size. Chaching! That made it worth the price of the can for sure.
Next, I got out the rice. I had originally planned to use regular white rice that I would have dehydrated for my recipes, and I will in the future. But, because of my rough week, I had some instant rice on hand so I used that instead. After all, dehydrated rice is actually what is used for instant rice. The recipe calls for a full 1/2 cup serving, which provides a good amount of carbohydrates needed for backpacking, etc. and would be good for a walk about should SHTF.
Then, it was bring out the dehydrated broccoli time! Mmmmmm, I love the smell upon the opening up that jar! (Here's a link to my video, How to Dehydrate Frozen Broccoli.) In the recipe (that I will be placing a link to down below) it called for 1/4 cup dehydrated vegetables and 2 tablespoons dehydrated broccoli. Instead of going with that, I used 1/4 cup dehydrated broccoli, with no additional vegetables.
It just didn't seem that 2 tablespoons was enough broccoli and I couldn't think of any other veggies I would want in with the mix. So, that's what I went with.
The broccoli re-hydrated beautifully, and was just perfect.
Since I had planned on using the microwave to "cook" the recipe, I just dumped the above ingredients into the glass bowl I was planning on using for the meal. In the recipe it actually has directions for cooking both on the trail/camping, etc. and using the microwave. Score! That was perfect for me! By the way, the recipe is for one serving, which again is perfect for making individual meals. And, it is a fairly good sized serving, not one of those that you have to make two servings to equal one.
I put all of the ingredients for the sauce mix into a small bowl instead of the small bag I would use if I were making the recipe as an MRE. By the way, I think in the future I will only use 1/4 teaspoon of the garlic powder. I like garlic, but it was just a little too garlicky for me.
After everything was ready, I poured 1-1/4 cup water into the bowl with the first three ingredients (everything but the sauce mix) and put it in the microwave, covered the bowl with a paper plate and set the timer for three minutes.
When the three minutes was up, I took the bowl out of the microwave, stirred in the sauce mix and put it back in the microwave (covered) for 10 minutes to sit. I figured it would be warmer in the microwave and hold the heat longer than it would have been sitting on my counter top. If I were out on a trek of some sort, I would have been using my cook pot and would have put the pot in a cozy and set it aside to re-hydrate.
Once the 10 minutes was up, I took it out, stirred it and let it cool a bit because it was still hot. When I took my first bite, I was amazed!! It was sooo delicious!! I'm pretty sure I will be making some of this just for some meals in a jar to have on hand at home for those days when I don't really feel like actually cooking something. That's most days for me, lol.
Anyway, I hope you are able to give this recipe a try! I will post it down below for your enjoyment. It was so easy to put together and well worth the time and cost. Actually, I tried to figure up the cost per serving and I gave up at $1.90 because I couldn't figure in the spices, but even with the cost of the spices per serving it would be less than $2.00 per serving. The initial cost is what will get you, but if you plan to make lots of meals with the chicken and powdered cheese (and I do) it is well worth it. :)
Cheesy Chicken Rice and Broccoli
RECIPE (PRINT/DOWNLOAD RECIPE)
(This is what I used and varies slightly from original recipe-link below)
1/2 cup instant rice
1/4 cup dehydrated chicken
1/4 cup dehydrated broccoli
1 Tbsp. instant non-fat dry milk
2 Tbsp. powdered cheese (I used Augason Farms Powdered Cheese Blend)
1/2 tsp. dried sage leaf
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste (I did not add either)
1/2 tsp. corn starch
1 1/4 cup water to re-hydrate
DIRECTIONS – AT HOME
1. Combine powdered ingredients in a smaller separate plastic baggy, this is your sauce mix. Combine rice, veggies, and ground chicken in a larger plastic baggy.
2. Store the small powdered baggy in the larger baggy!
DIRECTIONS – ON THE TRAIL
1. Add all ingredients, except the sauce mix, to your pan with the water, to soak for 5 minutes.
2. Light your stove, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the sauce mix
4. Cover/insulate and let sit for 10 minutes.
DIRECTIONS – MICROWAVE
1. Add all ingredients, except the sauce mix, to your microwave dish and microwave on high for 3 minutes.
2. Remove from microwave and stir in the sauce mix.
3. Cover/insulate and let sit for 10 minutes.
I used an online app for the nutrition info, this is not guaranteed accurate, but will give you an idea of the nutrition:
Calories: 422 kcal
Protein: 25.77 g
Fat: 13.79 g
Carbohydrates: 46.95 g
Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars, total 4.64 g
Starch 35.02 g
Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!
P.S. When stored properly, this meal should easily have a shelf life of 10-15 years!