Dave's Dried Mince Dinners
The method in all of these is identical:
Take enough lean mince - premium beef or chicken is best - to serve 4 people. (Pork and lamb mince are not good keepers, but are OK for a week or so. Chicken and beef I've used six months down the track and they've been fine.) I work on 150g per person per meal.
Dry fry it gently, stirring often, until it ceases to water and begins to stick a little to the pan. Set it aside. You may notice that the meat from some supermarkets seems to contain much more water than from others.
In the same pan, add just a little water to capture any residual meat flavour, then build your sauce.
Finally, return the cooked mince to the sauce and simmer gently for about five minutes, or until you can pick up the meal in a slotted spoon without the sauce dripping through. (This meal has to sit on mesh trays in the drier.) Adjust salt, pepper etc as required. If it doesn't taste fine now, it won't taste nice later on, even if you are hungry.
Carefully clean in hot water all the trays and plastic mesh inserts you will need. Distribute the meal over the mesh so that there is plenty of oportunity for air to circulate.
Set the drier to 60 - 65C. Drying should take about 5 - 8 hours. When it is done, your meal will be crispy crunchy. Wash hands before handling and storing it in new plastic resealable bags. Crumble larger pieces. Label each bag with the number of servings and the name of the sauce you have used, together with the date. [Note: This is one of the few instances where I would not recommend Signature Range (SR) products. Use Glad resealable bags, not the zip ones. They are vastly simpler to seal and keep sealed than SR.]
To reconstitute, place the meal in a pan and add water, cold or hot, to just cover the meat. Set aside for about 45 minutes or so, and have a cup of tea while you wait. Prepare remainder of meal. Finally bring meat to the boil gently and simmer for a few minutes before serving.
You pays your money and you takes your pick.
The recipes here are ones that suit me, but the basic principles remain the same over a range of sauces. Keep fat or oil to the low end of your normal scale of use. Fatty food does not dry well or keep well.
By the way: beef and chicken typically taste quite different in these recipes, even dried, so mixing and matching the above sauces gives you plenty of variety over an average tramp. I'd use slightly different spice mixes for the two curries, that's all.
Add a tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan, and a half level teaspoon of cumin seed, or a couple of pods of bruised cardamom seed.
Stir gently, then add a dessertspoon of grated ginger root - I buy good-looking fresh roots, and keep them in the freezer.
Add a finely chopped onion, and a level teaspoon of garlic paste or finely chopped garlic, and fry until the onion is transparent but not yet brown.
Add about 25 g of peanut butter, and a tablespoon of soy sauce, perhaps a little fresh ground black pepper, and enough water to generate the beginnings of a sauce. (If there's an inch or two of left over white wine in the bottle in the fridge, I might use that instead. Simmer gently for a minute or two, then add the cooked meat. After a minute or two, taste for final flavour and adjust soy, salt, etc to taste. Reduce until the sauce does not drip through a slotted spoon.
Add about 20 g of clarified butter (ghee) to the pan.
I'm keeping it simple, here. Under camping conditions the subtleties derived from mixing your own spice blend is largely lost. Add curry powder (Franita's if you have any handy, or just plain supermarket stuff), to taste, then a finely chopped onion and some garlic and a little water to prevent sticking.
Fry until the onion is transparent but not burned. Add about 100g of tomato puree, about the same of coconut cream, and a tablespoon of grated ginger root. Add a little water if it shows signs of sticking - a tablespoon or two at most should be plenty. Cook for a minute or two,
Add the meat and adjust for salt and pepper. You may want to add a squeeze of lemon or a slosh of left over sav blanc from the bottle in the fridge for that slight, sharp freshness, if necessary. Cook for a few more minutes until the meal no longer drips through a slotted spoon.
Dhansak. In the case of a curry, we can if we wish add our carbohydrate at this point. I'm here referring to chana dal. Chana is a form of wild chickpea, and tastes similar to chickpeas, perhaps a touch rougher. Its virtue is that it cooks in something like 35-40 minutes without needing hours of soaking first. I would throw a cup of chana dal into 4 cups of boiling water and a little salt, and cook it until the dal is soft enough for the tongue to mash it against the roof of the mouth. By this time it will have expanded to approximately 2 cups by volume. Drain it and add the contents to the curry mix above and stir to combine. Dry as described above. This will reconstitute as a one pot meal without any trouble.
Chana as a carbohydrate has the virtue that it is very slow to be absorbed, and will sustain you for longer than equivalent calories of rice.
If you want to have rice with your meal, I suggest you prepare and keep that separately
Any resemblance to a genuine Gujurat dhansak is coincidental.
I cheat. I use Five Brothers pasta sauce from a 500g jar. Bring it to simmer stage in the pan, and add the meat and a little water. Simmer and reduce while the meat absorbs the flavour. Dry as above. The Five Cheeses variety is better fresh than dried, otherwise any will do.
This does not need pasta and unless you have heaps of Great Walk gas available to cook your pasta you may simply treat it as another mince meal to be eaten with dried mashed potato or rice and reconstituted dried veg.
Essentially this is what you'd be having if you were having mince on toast at home. This is one of the versions I prepare.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and a couple of chopped onions. Fry until transparent, and add a teaspoon of garlic, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Add a little water to prevent sticking if necessary. Finely chop a couple of cups of mushrooms and add a dessertspoon of grated root ginger, and add them to the sauce.
Cook for a few moments and add the meat, together with a little water, and allow the sauce and meat to combine and reduce. Perhaps a slosh of leftover white wine. Taste and adjust to suit. If bland, a little bovril or marmite can be useful to lift the flavour. Use cautiously.
This meal would be one of the earlier ones to use. Mushrooms do not keep well when dried - they have a tendency to suck moisture out of anything handy and go off - so unless you can guarantee storage conditions, use early in the trip.