Recipe: Risotto with Smoked Salmon

Whip up this easy trail meal for luxurious fine dining under the stars.

“Risotto has always been a trail staple for me,” says Trail Chef Jennifer Bowen. “It’s so much easier to make than people think. And even if you don’t do it exactly the traditional way, it’s still going to taste really good and make you feel like an accomplished chef.”

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At home

Pack 1 cup Arborio rice, 2 Tbps butter, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 Tbsp chicken broth powder or paste in a zip-top bag. Also pack three Parmesan cheese packets (like from a pizza parlor), or 3 tsp Parmesan cheese.

Optional: Add 1/4 cup freeze-dried peas, freeze-dried button mushrooms, or dried shitakes (crumbled into small pieces).

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Keep 4 ounces of salmon in original package, then wrap it in a paper towel and a second zip-top bag. Many smoked salmons are naturally preserved by the smoking process and require no refrigeration. Seek out the dryer, thick-cut fillet of salmon that works well on camping trips, not lox or gravlax, which are moist, cured salmon.

Air-dry 2 Tbsp chopped green onion tops by spreading them out on a paper towel. Package onion tops seperately.

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In camp

Using a pot insulator if you have one, bring 2.5 cups water to a boil. Carefully pour half of the water into a wide mouth bottle. Close the bottle and set aside. Lower flame to 50 percent. Add rice packet to water and simmer, stirring continuously.

When most of the water has been absorbed by the rice (about 10 minutes), add half of the remaining water, continuing to stir. When the rice has become creamy and very thick but not stiff (should be the consistency of thick pudding), test the rice for doneness. The ideal texture for risotto is firm to the bite in the center of the grain, and creamy on the outside of the grain. If the rice is still a little too firm, add the remaining water continuing to stir until risotto has reached desired consistency.

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Stir in Parmesan cheese and onion greens.

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Remove salmon from bag and paper towel (keep them both!). With paper towel underneath package, carefully open package by slicing through the fish width-wise, making an effort to cut fish into two even portions.

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Divide risotto between two bowls, and holding fish package, allow halves of salmon to slide into each bowl on top of the risotto. Don’t heat fish, as that will result in an unpleasant texture; it will warm up quickly on top of hot risotto as you break it and eat it.

For an added touch of luxury and richness, drizzle generously with your favorite olive oil