backpacking recipe: Chicken Piccata
Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite Italian meals that I make at home. I adapted the recipe using dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients, and it’s now my favorite backpacking meal.
This recipe will be featured in an upcoming backpacking cookbook that I’m working on and hope to publish in 2019. Look for more info coming soon!
See the sections on “Sourcing Ingredients” and “Dehydrating Ingredients” below.
- 2 oz dehydrated pasta (or any pasta that cooks in 5 minutes or less)
- 1/4 cup freeze dried chicken
- 1 teaspoon dehydrated capers
- 1/4 cup dehydrated mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon dehydrated green onion
- 1 tablespoon butter powder
- 1 tablespoon powdered chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 packet of crystallized lemon (or a small packet of lemon juice)
I dehydrate some of the ingredients at home, which helps to keep the cost down, but you can buy everything here already dried – except the capers… I don’t know of a source for buying these already dehydrated. For me, they are an important component in this recipe, but you can try it without them to see if you like it.
Combine all ingredients into a sealed plastic bag. I use a FoodSaver vacuum sealer for storing all of my backpacking meals, and I keep them in the freezer until I’m ready to go on a trip. Keep the lemon in its separate packet until ready to use.
- Add a cup of water to your backpacking stove and bring it to full boil. You may need to add more water, but it’s better to start with less rather than too much.
- Add all of the ingredients (including the lemon) and stir well.
- Turn down the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Cover with the stove lid and let sit for 10 minutes.
- I often turn the stove back on to cook down remaining liquid, being careful to not burn the meal. The cornstarch will thicken the liquid and coat all of the ingredients.
Note: I cook all of my meals in my Jetboil Minimo and eat right out of the pan. The Minimo has simmer control so it’s easier to cook without burning. I’m not a fan of eating out of a plastic bag, and I prefer to control the cooking of the food for better results. Cleaning the pan after I eat is worth the few minutes it takes. However, you could try adding boiling water to a freezer-style plastic bag with the ingredients and let it soak until the everything is fully rehydrated. I’ll be testing this method for my recipes on upcoming trips, but haven’t tried it yet.
Sourcing the ingredients
- freeze-dried chicken: I buy Mountain House freeze-dried chicken in a large #10 can and split it up amongst my recipes. I keep the unused portion in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer so it will keep longer.
- capers: I buy these at Trader Joe’s and dehydrate them at home. They rehydrate extremely well.
- green onions & mushrooms: I get these at any grocery store and dehydrate them at home
- pasta: for better rehydrating, use a pasta that cooks in 5 minutes or less. I used pasta that needed a longer cooking time, so I cooked it and dehydrated it for use in this recipe. This way, it will fully rehydrate better and not need to be cooked separately from the other ingredients in this recipe.
- butter powder: from Packit Gourmet
- powdered chicken stock: from Packit Gourmet
- crystallized lemon: from Packit Gourmet (or you can use a small packet of lemon juice)
Packit Gourmet is a small family-run business in Austin that sells dehydrated, freeze-dried and ready-made meals for backpackers. They don’t use additives or preservatives in their dried ingredients, which is much preferred over products typically found in grocery stores.
It’s easy to dehydrate ingredients at home! I use a Nesco Snackmaster dehydrator with temperature control. I purchased additional fruit roll trays for every tray in the dehydrator so food doesn’t fall through the standard trays. It usually takes 6-8 hours to dehydrate chopped vegetables, longer for foods with more liquid or for meats.
It’s important to thoroughly dry everything until there’s no moisture left. To help food rehydrate faster, cut foods into small equal size pieces before dehydrating.
I regularly dehydrate green onions, mushrooms, pasta, and rice for use in my recipes. I also dehydrate fully cooked meals, including one of my favorites: spaghetti with meat sauce.
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