Jim Hargreaves – recipe for an adventurous summer – de-hydrate and re-hydrate

Many of you have recently read Rachel’s Canada Report, especially her wilderness trip on the Barron river with Jim Hargreaves and other wild animals.

Trawling back through old emails this week, I realised that Jim is soon to set off for his Summer expedition to Mountain River Aug 2007.  Have a great trip, Jim! 

Also for your gastronomic delight, here are Jim’s handy cooking tips for those days when what would really hit the spot is a re-hydrated piece of leather-con-carne. Hoping one day to go on a real wilderness trip where this kind of cooking is actually necessary.

CHILI CON CARNE

DEHYDRATED AND VACUUM PACKED – SIX PEOPLE

INGREDIENTS: 2 tbsps olive oil, 1 kg leanest minced beef available, 2 med sized onions, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tins tomatoes, 1 tin kidney beans, 1 tbsp chili powder,  2 Bay leafs, Fresh thyme, 1 red bell pepper – adds sweetness, Red and green chili peppers to taste – if you like it hot! Fresh basil, Salt & pepper

METHOD

Using a frying pan on a LOW heat gently sauté coarsely copped garlic and onions in olive oil until they are translucent and soft – do not brown them.  You should barely be able to hear them sizzling.  Transfer to a large saucepan.

Add the minced beef to the onions / garlic and mix well. Allow to cook gently for five minutes.  Add chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.

Add chopped tinned tomatoes, including juice, to the saucepan and bring to a simmer.   Add kidney beans.

Add fresh thyme, basil, bay leafs, bell peppers and chilies and allow to simmer until the beef is cooked through – about twenty minutes.

Reduce heat and simmer gently without a lid to reduce the mixture until it is nice and thick – much thicker than if you were going to eat it immediately – before the dehydrating process most of the excess liquid needs to evaporate otherwise the dehydration process will take much longer.  It should be hang- on-the-spoon thick.

Pre-heat the oven to absolute minimum setting and spread chili mix onto greaseproof paper or Teflon sheets on a large baking sheet.  Spread as thinly as possible – better still use two sheets to enable you to spread the chili mix even thinner.

Place sheets in oven and leave oven door open about six inches.  Leave in oven until the chili sauce is dry to touch and can be peeled off of the surface of the sheets in one piece like a piece of thick, malleable leather.   Normally at least 12 hours, probably more.  If you are using a dehydrator this process normally takes 24 hours.  Do not close the oven door – the aim is to dry the mix by gently evaporating the liquid by circulating warm, dry air around it.  Convection ovens will work even better.

Fold the sheets of leathery chili mix into quarters and place in freezer in a Ziploc bag until it is frozen enough to become fragile and can be broken into tiny bits.  Break down the mix and vacuum pack if possible, if not seal well in a Ziploc bag.  This process is not essential it just reduces the volume even more for storage purposes.

TO RECONSTITUTE

Place the dry mix in a saucepan and add 500ml of cold water.  If in leathery form tear into small pieces.  Gently bring to a simmer stirring regularly.  Do not blast it.  As the mixture swells and reconstitutes add cold water until it is the right consistency.  It is already cooked so the mix just needs to re-hydrate and warm up.  The herbs and spices will have still been acting even whilst it was dehydrated so expect it to be very spicy if you have been generous with the herbs and spices.  Make sure the mixture is fully re-hydrated before serving.

Serve on rice but works very well with flatbreads – pita, naan or tortillas.

REMEMBER – FAT AND OIL DO NOT DEHYDRATE SO USE ABSOLUTELY THE LEANEST MEAT YOU CAN FIND AND AS LITTLE OIL AS POSSIBLE.

THE ABOVE CAN BE EASILY APPLIED TO DAHL, CURRY, BOLOGNAISE, SAUCES, SOUPS AND STEWS (SMALL, VERY LEAN PIECES OF MEAT)

AVOID DEHYDRATING CHICKEN AND UNCOOKED EGGS – RISK OF SALMONELLA.

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2 Responses

  1. Enough for 6 people? There’s only three cloves of garlic in it, surely there should be at least 18!

  2. Good Lord, you’re right!
    I had misread that as “3 heads of garlic”, which seemed on the low side, but still within acceptable limits.
    How does this man expect to survive on such a dangerously low garlic rations!
    He should really learn to be more prepared, its a wilderness out there!

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