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Poor editors. This gig might sound glamorous—full of on-the-clock hikes and mountaintop meetings—but the truth is that more often than not, we’re working steadily at our desks, gazing wistfully out of the window at the Flatirons. That’s why last week in the office was such a treat: The trail came to us, in the form of backcountry cuisine. We’re deep into our Readers’ Choice issue these days, and it was my task to decide which of the many reader recipes that came in truly deserved the “Backpacker’s Favorite” title. You know what that means: Taste test!
It wasn’t easy—but it was tasty. We narrowed the recipes down to 10 finalists, then cooked ’em all up on backpacking stoves and sampled them among our discriminating editorial palates. After three days’ worth of chewing, the very best recipes were clear. And you’ll have to wait ’til the Readers’ Choice issue (December/January) to see them.
But of course, Trail Chef would never leave you hanging. So here’s one of our finalists—it didn’t quite make the last cut, but it was yummy and pleasing nonetheless.
Pasta with Herbes de Provence
Submitted by Clint Conaster (recipe slightly adapted)
3 ounces angel hair pasta
4 or 5 ounces canned, dehydrated, or pouch chicken
3 large sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup dried mushrooms
2 ounces olive oil
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (use one of the packets from your last pizza delivery)
At home Place herbs, tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and cheese in separate zip-top bags. Place olive oil in a small plastic bottle. Pack this with garlic and pasta in another zip-top bag.
In camp One hour to 30 minutes before eating, bring water to a boil. If you’re using dehydrated chicken, let it sit, covered, in the hot water for the full hour to rehydrate. If not, let the tomatoes and mushrooms rehydrate for 20-30 minutes in hot water. When ready to really start cooking, boil pasta in water for 4 minutes, then drain and remove from pot. Finely dice garlic, then heat in the pot with olive oil, drained tomatoes, and drained mushrooms until garlic is lightly toasted. Add chicken to the pot and stir until well-mixed. Top with herbs and Parmesan.
Image credit: FotoosVanRobin