Dehydrating chicken that rehydrates well is not as cut and dried as you might think. I have tried baking, poaching, frying and grilling it with the same results – tough dried chicken!
During my quest to find a way to dry chicken that would return to tenderness on the trail, I put some canned chicken in the dehydrator and that was the answer. Canned chicken rehydrates fairly well in meals.
The difference has to do with the way that canned chicken is pressure cooked right in the can in a process called retort cooking. I have dried several brands including Swanson, Target, Hormel, and Tyson. They all turn out fairly tender when rehydrated.
I also dehydrated a couple of brands of pouched chicken which is also pressure cooked. The pouched chicken turned out more tender than my home cooked chicken, but was a little chewier than the canned chicken.
This page shows how to dehydrate canned chicken followed by a couple of other suggestions shared by BackpackingChef.com readers.
Additionally, the link immediately below will take you to a page where you will learn how to pressure cook and dry your own chicken.
If you own a pressure cooker or are interested in learning how to pressure cook your own chicken for drying, I have developed a technique and recipe that tastes fantastic and is comparable to canned chicken for tenderness.
Otherwise, continue reading...
When dry, a 12.5 ounce can yields a little less than a cup and will weigh 1.5 to 2 ounces.
Store dehydrated chicken in the freezer until you are ready to use it or pack for a trip.
Canned chicken is not widely available outside the United States – something I discovered when I went looking for it in Switzerland. If you can’t find it, there are two other methods – steam cooking or buying broasted chicken – which PasnThru and Jeff the Chef have shared further down the page.
1. Substitute chicken for ground beef or ham in any of the Backpacking Chef recipes to add variety to your backpacking menu.
2. Chicken goes well with rice and vegetables in backpacking meals.
In my book, Recipes for Adventure, you’ll find more chicken recipes like Chicken & Rice Cacciatore and Curry Chicken & Rice shown below.
Here are two other methods of dehydrating chicken shared by Backpacking Chef readers:
Dehydrating Steamed Chicken
Shared by Jeff the Chef:
Yield: 15-20 ¼ cup portions for the price of two cans!
Jeff says, "Steamed chicken has excellent flavor and less fat than canned chicken. The fat drips off the bird during steaming and can be helped along by pouring hot water over the bird. I do this with turkey and duck also."
Dehydrating Broasted Chicken (from store or restaurant)
Shared by PasnThru:
Broasting is pressure cooking with oil. Restaurants such as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) cook their chicken this way. (Do not cook with oil in a home pressure cooker!) The photo above shows dried breast meat on left and thigh meat on right with the rehydrated meat in the foreground. PasnThru was pleased with the results. Because the meat is cooked under pressure, much less oil enters the meat compared to open frying.
Note from Chef Glenn:
Thigh meat has nearly twice as much fat as breast meat, so it is less desirable for long-term storage.
Pressure Cooking Chicken
Pressure cooking your own chicken allows you to tenderize and infuse the meat with aromatic ingredients and herbs.
See Chef Glenn's pressure cooking & dehydrating chicken technique and recipe.
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