Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gourmet Backpacking

So you are going backpacking and you want to do something different in the food department. I hear that statement a lot, right before people end up buying my book.

You don’t have to settle for freeze dried food just because you are trying to lighten your backpack weight. Listen; it's important that you be well nourished out in the backcountry.

We mostly prepare our recipes ahead of time using ziploc freezer bags and making a copy of the recipe and stuffing it in one of those bags that has the dried goods. There are a lot of times when my gang and I “peakbag”. Then we are either trailhead camping or hauling on our backs on the trail.

So often we will make an elaborate meal and “freezer bag it”, like a chili or a stew, freeze it solid and put it in a thermal bag to stay frozen until we reach our destination.

Pasta sauce it another good candidate for this, bring your dry pasta and ta-da, you have a great dinner.

Here is good starchy carb filler (a light as a freeze dried meal) that will get you up and back down the mountain.

Risotto with Leeks and Wild Mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 small leek (6 to 8 ounces)
  • 1-1/2 ounces dried or dehydrated mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, morel, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Home Preparation:
Package the rice in a small sandwich-sized Ziploc bag with the mushrooms and bouillon cube. Wash the leek and trim off the top of the green section; slice the remaining lighter colored section into thin, ring-shaped sections. Wash the leeks once more and drain thoroughly on paper towels. Place the leeks in a separate small bag.
Wrap the grated Parmesan cheese into a small packet with wax paper or plastic wrap. Place this packet along with the Ziploc bags of leeks into the original bag of rice and mushrooms. I like to include a small copy of the recipe in the bag for reference on liquid amounts.

At Camp:
Remove the separate packages from the bag of rice and mushrooms. Heat a small sauce pot (1-1/2 to 2 quarts) with oil or butter and add the rice, mushrooms and bouillon cube. Break the bouillon cube up and stir the rice; add 1/2 cup of the water and simmer, stirring constantly until the rice and mushrooms have absorbed most of the liquid.

Add the leeks and more water. Cook until you’ve achieved the desired texture. If the rice is still too “al dente” (chewy), add additional water as needed, up to 1/2 cup. Finish the risotto with the grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Serving Size
Serves 2

Eat well outdoors!