We don’t go backpacking nearly as much as we would like. There are only so many weekends in the summer and most of ours have been spent rafting this year. We only went once last year too…. At the end of every summer we always swear we’re going backpacking more next year and then it never happens. Total fail. Kris and I did get in one trip at the end of July and I made almost all of our backpacking food for the trip. So I wanted to share the recipe for the dehydrated chicken tamale pie because it was a success and delicious!
Okay, so now I have to back up and tell you why I decided to make my own dehydrated meals for backpacking. Last year, Kris and I went backpacking with my parents and my cousin and her husband in the Seven Devils (near Riggins, Idaho, if anyone is interested). Kris and I packed the Mountain House freeze-dried meals, which are honestly, pretty good. Just a bit heavy for me….very carby, and salty. So Kris and I are getting ready to heat water to add to the freeze-dried meal the first night, and I look over and see that my cousin and her husband have these amazingly, delicious homemade backpacking foods. They totally showed us up! And I was super jealous of their meals!
Anyway, this year on our backpacking trip to Big Hole (near Stanley, Idaho), I decided to make my own homemade backpacking food. For our breakfasts, I made a mostly nuts and seeds granola with freeze-dried strawberries and powdered milk. One was cocoa-flavored and the other cinnamon vanilla, just add water to eat. We had salami and cheese sandwiches for lunch and trail mix for a snack. Our first dinner was “pizza” on Flat-Out wraps with marinara sauce, pepperoni, and cheese. And the big reveal was the dehydrated chicken tamale pie!
Inspiration for the recipe comes from a book that Kris purchased at REI – Lip Smackin’ Backpackin’ (also on Amazon). The book has a recipe for tamale pie and I just modified it. It took me about eight hours to dehydrate everything for the meal. The canned chicken is awesome to dehydrate; it only takes four hours. I did try dehydrating some canned cannellini beans this round and they turned out great. So canned beans would be an option in place of the chicken, or in addition to it. A dehydrator is key to making backpacking meals. You could probably do it in the oven, but I don’t know how much time it would take or how well it would work overall. Sorry there’s no picture of the final product prepared. I’m selfishly storing this in the freezer for our next backpacking trip but to give you an idea of what it looks like, imagine chicken tortilla soup with a layer of polenta/cornbread on top. Enjoy!
- 2 - 10 oz cans of chicken, drained and rinsed
- 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 2.25 oz can of sliced olives, drained
- 2 peppers (bell, Anaheim, poblano - any variety works), diced
- 1-3 jalapeños, sliced
- 2 tbsp dried chopped onions
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ cup Jiffy cornbread muffin mix
- Optional - 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- Arrange canned chicken on a dehydrator tray by itself. Depending on the size of your dehydrator, you might need to use two trays. Place the peppers and olives on a dehydrate tray. Again, you might need two trays.
- Using the fruit leather/sprouting trays (or parchment paper lined trays), place a scoop of tomato paste on the trays and using the back of a spoon, spread the tomato paste into a thin layer.
- Next, start the dehydrator. Check the dehydrating food every two hours or so and remove items as they are dried. The chicken will take about four hours. The peppers and olives might take six to eight hours. The cannellini beans will take four to six hours.
- While the food is dehydrating, place all the seasonings in a quart sized ziplock bag.
- Place the ½ cup of cornbread muffin mix in a snack sized ziplock bag.
- When the food on the dehydrator is done, add to the seasonings bag.
- Write cooking instructions on the ziplock bags.
- To prepare the corn muffin mix when backpacking, add 2-3 tbsp of water to the bag and mix by squeezing the bag to form a paste.
- To prepare the Chicken Tamale Pie when backpacking, pour the bag of dehydrated ingredients and seasonings into a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
- Add the cornbread muffin mix on top of the chicken mixture. Do not stir. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.