Unstuffing Mom’s Stuffed Peppers

My mother used green bell peppers in her stuffed peppers recipe, one of my favorites when I was a boy, right up there with her peach pie, but for trail cooking I make it with red, yellow, and orange peppers in my “unstuffed” version. The colors make it a fun, enjoyable meal. Back home, mom’s stuffed peppers would have included a side of Jersey sweet corn on the cob dripping with butter and salt. I usually cook a side of corn in my fry pan lid when I make this meal on the trail.

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Dehydrating the Ingredients

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Peppers: To dehydrate peppers, simply cut the peppers into pieces and dry them raw at 125° for six to eight hours. Dried peppers remain pliable when dry and they rehydrate well with hot water.

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Rice: Although you can use instant rice, I precook long grain rice to add extra flavor to it and then dry it. Precooked and dried rice rehydrates well on the trail with minimal cooking. Cook each cup of rice in two and a half cups of beef, chicken or vegetable broth before you dry it.

Spread cooked rice out on your covered dehydrator trays as best you can and dry at 125° for approximately five hours. Don’t worry if the rice is stuck together at first. After about two hours, pull apart the largest of the rice clumps which will still be moist. About ¾ of the way through the drying process, the rice will be dry enough to take up handfuls and squeeze and rub it against itself to break up the clumps. Some rice will remain stuck together at the end, but it separates when you rehydrate it on the trail.

Nutrition Tip: If you are drying any cooked vegetables around the time you are drying rice, use the water that you cooked the vegetables in to make the rice. Toss in a slice of a bouillon cube if it needs a bump in flavor.

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Tomato Sauce: Use your favorite marinara sauce to make tomato sauce leather. Avoid sauces that have a lot of oil or cheese in the ingredients as these won’t keep as well as plain sauce when dried. Spread the sauce thinly on covered dehydrator trays and dry it at 135° for six to eight hours. If you are drying it at the same time as vegetables, you can dry it at 125° and leave it in longer. After about five hours, the tomato sauce leather should be dry enough to peel off the non-stick sheets and finish drying without the non-stick sheets. This ensures the bottom side of the leather gets dried well.

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Ground Beef: Use only lean ground beef because fatty meat could spoil. Cook until brown in a frying pan and pat down with paper towels before drying at 145° to 155° for about six hours. Use non-stick sheets or parchment paper to keep small pieces from falling through the trays. Ground beef will be hard when thoroughly dried.

Pack it up

Regular Serving for One: Pack ½ cup rice, ¼ cup peppers, ¼ cup ground beef in a Ziploc bag. Pack ¼ cup tomato sauce leather and two tablespoons of parmesan cheese in separate small plastic bags and enclose with the other ingredients. Water to rehydrate: 1 ¼ cups.

Larger Serving for One: ¾ cup rice, ⅓ cup peppers, ⅓ cup ground beef, ⅓ cup tomato sauce leather, 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Water to rehydrate: 1 ¾ cups.

On the Trail: Combine all ingredients except parmesan cheese in pot with water and soak five minutes. Light stove, bring to boil and cook for one more minute. Turn off stove and wait ten minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese.

Dehydrate Rice for Several Meals

I don’t dehydrate food for one meal only. I dry large batches of rice, vegetables, meats and sauces which I combine later into a variety of meals.

Yield: One cup of rice makes about 3½ cups cooked before drying and that yields 1¾ to 2 cups dried. So, you can make two to four meals starting with a cup of rice depending on the size of your servings. Visit my website to learn more about using bread crumbs in ground beef to make it rehydrate much better than dried ground beef by itself. You will also find a tasty recipe for Mexican Beef andRice.

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