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November 2015 Trail Bytes: How to Make & Dry Stuffing for a Trail Meal
November 30, 2015
Of all the leftovers from our Thanksgiving dinners, stuffing is never one of them. It goes in the first round. But that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying stuffing and Thanksgiving-style dinners on the trail. To make stuffing for the trail, you have to think outside the bird.
In Switzerland, I cook two chickens for Thanksgiving instead of one big turkey. Ovens are small in Switzerland and turkeys barely fit, plus they are hard to find. After the big meal, it turn the leftover chicken into soup.
Soup is the essential ingredient for making trail stuffing. If you don’t have a bird on hand to make soup, the quick and easy solution is to purchase low fat chicken broth at the store.
I make chicken soup by boiling the bones and what’s left on them in two quarts of water. I don’t include the skin so the soup doesn’t turn out too fatty. After straining out the bones, I put the broth in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to rise and solidify on top. The next day I remove the fat and cook the soup with fresh ingredients including onion, garlic, celery, potatoes, green beans, and carrots. I bump the flavor as necessary with a bit of chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper. Soup is ready after thirty minutes of simmering.
How to Make & Dry Stuffing for the Trail:
As shown above, cut bread into half-inch slices. Any kind of bread will do, even rye or pumpernickel. Put the bread in the dehydrator at 125° F for one hour. This makes the bread more absorbent.
Dip the dried bread in chicken soup or broth on both sides until fully saturated and place on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets. Remove the non-stick sheets after an hour of drying. Dehydrate at 135° F until completely dry and bread snaps when broken into pieces. Times may vary. I dried mine for six hours. Break dried stuffing into bite-sized pieces.
That’s all there is to making and drying stuffing.
Make it a Meal
To make a Thanksgiving-style meal with stuffing, dehydrate chicken or turkey and your favorite vegetables. I used the chicken and vegetables from the soup and dried them on trays covered with non-stick sheets at 135° F for eight hours.
Photo shows dried soup solids on left and dried stuffing on right
To prepare a single serving on the trail, add ½ cup of combined dried chicken and vegetables to pot with one cup of water. Let soak for five minutes and then light stove. Bring to a boil for one minute. Remove pot from stove and add 1½ cups (about 65 grams) of dried stuffing on top of the other ingredients. By adding the dried stuffing last, it will get moist but not soggy. Put pot in insulating cozy and wait fifteen minutes. This meal can also be similarly prepared in a Thermos Food Jar.
The photo above shows the rehydrated stuffing separate from the other ingredients, but I stirred it all together when I ate it. I enjoyed it very much. Stuffing is a nice variation from the big three starches – potatoes, rice, and pasta - that usually go into backpacking meals.
Good News: The chicken which had first been baked in the oven and then simmered in soup before I dried it rehydrated well. It was tender, not tough. Based on this experience and tips sent in by readers, this leads me to believe that slow cooking chicken with moisture, such as in a slow-cooker, steamer, or pot of soup, is a good way to cook chicken for drying.
That's it for this month. We wish continued blessings for you and your family. May your meals and adventures always be memorable.
Chef Glenn & Dominique
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