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PostPosted: June 13th, 2011, 5:10 pm 
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For years, I've gone with the old stand-by, dehydrated ground beef, and it's still one of our regular dinner ingredients while out on trip, but on my longer trips, I really crave variety...

In recent years, we've started dehydrating chicken, and have had surprisingly tasty results.

Generally, I buy boneless skinless breasts, but have also used this technique with bone-in skinless chicken. First, I boil the chicken to cook it. Then, after rinsing under cold water for several minutes, I shred the chicken into thin strips. A fork, or fingers work well for this.

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Next, spread the shredded chicken on the dehydrator trays, leaving lots of room for air circulation.

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I have used the Nesco Food Dehydrator for years, and am happy with the results.
I have found 12 hours at 135F to be ideal drying time for 10 trays of chicken.

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The end result, dried, preserved chicken strips that can be added to a stir fry, casserole, or my favorite: chicken fajitas. Each one of these bags contains about 1.5 chicken breasts, and weighs about 75g.

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Here's a shot of one of our favorite tripping meals: Chicken fajitas with salsa (also dehydrated) and shredded mozzarella cheese on top, baking in the reflector oven.
Doesn't get much better than that... :thumbup:

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PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 1:04 pm 
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Thanks for the post!
Thats exactly what I do, but I was wondering if I was doing something wrong as the chicken takes for ever to rehydrate. I find its still tough after a lengthy cooking time.

I bring the indian sauce packs. Rice and chicken ,and you have a great meal, but the chicken is a tough chew..wears down my enamel.

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PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 2:02 pm 
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Thanks!
I use boneless, skinless chicken too.
I've been baking it (20 min at 400F), rather than boiling it, and I've been cutting it into small chunks, rather than shredding it.
I cut the chicken because I find that very small pieces get hard, well cooked and very dry (rather than dehydrated). Maybe though I'm dehydrating for too long.
I rehydrate for about 10 hours (I put it into a Nalgene bottle at breakfast time); still though, it is rather chewy by the time supper rolls around.
Chacun a son gout.

MM:
Have you posted a similar procedure for cooking and dehydrating ground beef?
What I produce looks like used coffee grounds and tastes worse; it is plain inedible.

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PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 2:24 pm 
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I also have tough chicken so I'm following this thread hoping someone has an answer.
Allan, this website
http://www.backpackingchef.com/dehydrating-meat.html
was on a recent thread and it mentions using breadcrumbs to help ground beef. I tried it and I have to say the results were certainly better than my usual.
Ralph


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PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 2:25 pm 
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I use chicken in a pouch though if you can get those big cans of chicken at your bulk food store you can dehydrate them.

Both are pressure cooked chicken. Pressure cooked chicken rehydrates MUCH better.

If you can find a pressure cooker try cooking the raw chicken in that.

I sometimes dehydrate ground turkey with OK results.


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PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 9:02 pm 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
I use flaked chicken in the cans. I re-flake it and dry it on the fruit roll up trays (since its too small for the grate tray), and parchment would work well too. It rehydrates perfectly every time for me, and I time it with a 20 minute type rice (place in pot at the same time), or simmer it for about 10 minutes, then add pasta directly to the pot with a measured amount of water (cook like rice), and when the pasta is done, the meal is done, and meat fully rehydrated. In any case, I find about 20 minutes on simmer always works for me.

I suspect the canned flaked chicken is presssure cooked, and so it rehydrates quite well, as LRC has mentioned. The downside is that the canned chicken is a tad salty. I don't add salt to my meal, and I find it fine. I am sweating out loads of salt anyways in summer, and need replenishment.

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PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 6:56 am 
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I've tried the canned chicken thing too, but have found the results using real chicken to be far superior.
The biggest drawback to using canned chicken is that it tastes like, well... canned chicken. Imagine a meal of oven baked chicken fajitas with stir-fried veggies, salsa and cheese, with canned chicken... tastes as good as it sounds... :(
I crave "real food" on my trips. 8) and the dehydrated chicken fits the bill.

I agree with some of the previous posters who said that the chicken is hard to rehydrate and can be tough.
I over come this by a long pre-soak, and boiling the sh*t out of it.
Also, many of my meals are baked in the reflector oven, and this slow cooking seems to help with the issue as well.

On the other hand, I actually appreciate that this chicken doesn't rehydrate to the usual dried food consistency: that porridge-like consistency that so many dehydrated meals seem to have...
Anything I can do to add texture to my meals is a plus for me.


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PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 10:26 am 
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Maintaining the natural salt content in the chicken will help it re-hydrate faster & not be so chewy (though the texture is definitely different from fresh - no going back there!) Boiling & rinsing it takes out a lot of salt & nutrients, so I cook the chicken right in the sauce & dehydrate as a meal, for example:

Curried Chicken & Veggies:
At Home:
Fry (in minimal canola oil) diced onions, carrots, celery (+ etc veggies) & spices (garlic, ginger, curry powder or paste).
Add chicken breast, cut in large strips (across the grain so it's easier to shred later) & fry long enough to seal the chicken.
Add canned diced tomatos.
Add legumes (canned chick peas, red lentils) if desired.
Cook all together (longer reduces liquid content, or add tomato paste to thicken).
Remove chicken & shred (same as Mike), then add back to curry.
Dry on fruit leather trays till all larger chunks are dry.
In Camp:
Add water to cover at breakfast or lunch so it soaks for the afternoon & takes 20min or less to cook once you get into camp. Serve with rice.

Thanks Mike!
& Hey all – don't ask me for quantities for above recipe – my recipes are never the same twice!


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PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 4:29 pm 
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I cook and then dry lean ground chicken. It rehydrates in about 5 minutes of boiling. I then add the other ingredients, for whatever meal, I am using the chicken for.The whole re-cooking process takes about 15 minutes.No presoak....

I have done essentially what Mike is doing and found that it takes a long time to rehydrate.


But, I haven't tried to cook it slowly at moderate oven temperatures for a long period of time and then shred it. This shredding process works very well with roast of beef. I think I will try it with chicken.


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PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 5:55 pm 
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lllynette wrote:
Maintaining the natural salt content in the chicken will help it re-hydrate faster & not be so chewy (though the texture is definitely different from fresh - no going back there!) Boiling & rinsing it takes out a lot of salt & nutrients, so I cook the chicken right in the sauce & dehydrate as a meal..


If thats true, then boiling it in over salted water would prevent the movement of ions into the water .Still, maybe Im missing something. I will try it out today,
boiling in really really salty water.

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PostPosted: June 16th, 2011, 10:17 am 
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Allan Jacobs wrote:
Thanks!
MM:
Have you posted a similar procedure for cooking and dehydrating ground beef?
What I produce looks like used coffee grounds and tastes worse; it is plain inedible.


I haven't posted a procedure to dry ground beef, but it is very straightforward.
Dehydrated ground beef is one of the staple ingredients on all my trips. It's a versatile addition to many meals.

My procedure is as follows:
Fry lean or extra lean ground beef in a pan (I usually fry up about 4lbs at a time)
Drain off any excess fat throughout the cooking process.
Make sure to crumble the beef into the smallest size possible while frying.
After frying, transfer the cooked ground beef into a collander and rinse under hot water for several minutes.

** Some people will tell you to soak it and do all kinds of unneccessary and fancy stuff to it at this point to remove every last trace of fat/oil, but a rinse under hot water is really all you need.
I have some left over from last summer that is still as good as the day I dried it...

After rinsing in hot water, spread it out in the dehydrator and dry for 12 hours.

The results may not look apetizing, but a quick pre-soak at the campsite and you can add it to your recipe. If used correctly, I can barely tell the difference between what was dehydrated ground beef and fresh.

Some of our favorite Dehydrated Ground Beef recipes are:
Mexican Burritos
Reflector oven Shepherd's Pie (with dried corn, carrots, onion with instant mashed potatoes on top)
Reflector oven baked Lasagna (this on is likely my all time favorite tripping dinner... :thumbup: )
Chilli Con Carne (dried vegetables, beans, etc...)
And any variety of pasta with meat sauce.


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PostPosted: June 21st, 2011, 11:52 am 
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Lynette, approximately how much water do you add to that recipe in camp?


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PostPosted: June 21st, 2011, 12:12 pm 
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Just finished a batch of 500g in salty water. Looks good, I'll post after my trip next week.

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PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 11:26 am 
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Whenever I dehydrate ground beef, I always save the fat/grease, freeze it and then seal it with my vacum sealer. I then just add it to whatever dish I'm putting the ground beef in and it really adds to the flavor. If you use a cooler on your trip it'll last for a week or more ...


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 11:49 am 
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The chicken came out great. I've never had chicken come out this good. It was salty, but it was perfect... the closest it could be to real chicken!!

Salty but well rehydrated.

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