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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Trail Chef: Savory One-Pot Meals--Chili Crunch and Tortellini Stew

Check out these delicious one-pot dishes.

by: Laura Binks

When I'm trying to decide what to make for supper, I ask myself two important questions: How long is it going to take to cook and how many dishes will I have to do when the meal is over?  That's why, in the frontcountry, I love my crockpot. Unfortunately, I can't take my favorite cooking appliance backpacking, so I opt for these delicious meals that are easy to prep and easy to clean, but sure to satisfy a hungry (and impatient) hiker. (Stay tuned next week for two more one-pot recipes.)
Makes 3 servings
1 box dry chili mix
2 cans kidney beans
Corn chips 
Cheddar cheese
Hot sauce
At home
For lighter weight, remove beans from cans and dehydrate them (or buy dried beans from sites like Combine dry chili mix and dehydrated kidney beans.  Individually pack corn chips, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce.  
In camp
Add dry mix and beans to 7 ½ cups water.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes or until done. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with cheddar cheese, corn chips, and hot sauce.  
Makes 2 servings
2 cups dried tortellini
1 cup thinly sliced dried tomatoes
3 tablespoons dried, chopped green pepper
1/3 cup onion flakes
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
At home
Place all ingredients except Parmesan cheese in a zip-top bag.  Pack Parmesan cheese separately.  
In camp
Add tortellini mixture to 2 quarts (8 cups) boiling water. Stir until water returns to a boil.  Stirring occasionally, cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes.  Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  
**Recipes adapted from More Backcountry Cooking  

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Reader Rating: -


Dec 26, 2010

I do not take my measuring spoons and cups to the back country. Err go the, "at home", part about preperation of the meal? That is when all you measurments should be accomplished. Given that a good ol'fashioned bean can makes for a good multipurpose "pot" when you got nothing else, but I don't go hiking with cans of beans in my pack either. Water is heavy. Is it that hard to find a bag of dried beans in the store, anymore?
It is a good recipe for two reasons. 1) It really does not matter if you have exactly two cans worth of reconsituted beans, round about estimate does the trick just fine. Who ever died from to many beans in their chili? 2) It is simple, that makes it more likely that us not so cooking inclined folk will give it a try.
My advice is stop worring about getting the portion of beans to corn chips exactly right. Trust me at the end of a 15+ mile day on the trail I would gladly welcome the extra farts, in exchange for the fiber and protien in those hard to measure exactly by "cans" dry beans.
Go out and hike. Stop spliting hairs. Humans were meant to live outside, go and experiance life. Get out side and start to cook there more. You will soon realize that exact measurments are not the issue, the real issue is thus: 1) Does it taste good?, 2) Does it give me enough calories? 3) Does it have them good nutrients that will keep me going?
Avid campfire cook,

Dec 18, 2010

If you're drying them in the oven, how long? What temp?

Dec 18, 2010

Help my wife and I get to Glacier NP!
Vote for me here:

Dec 17, 2010

Debmonster... you simply drain and rinse canned kidney beans and dry them in the oven or on a food dehydrator. It's cheap and easy to do.

Dec 16, 2010

For the Chili Crunch recipe, it says "cans" but it also says "dehydrated" kidney beans. I've never seen a can of dehydrated beans, but no one should be bringing a can of anything on a backpack trip anymore when there are so many lightweight alternatives. You can get lots of dehydrated veggies (including all kinds of beans) at Packit Gourmet:


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