Tales from the Dehydrator: No. 2 Beef in Red Wine with Mash

The dehydrator is washed and ready for action again, and having crafted this week’s menu specifically to generate a meal for dehydration, it’s time to get on with it. Today it’s Beef in Red Wine, a sort of poor man’s Boeuf Bourguignon. This is just the sort of meal I like to eat cowering from a biting wind on top of a mountain. I’m hoping it works…

Recipe

  • 600g diced beef, cut up even smaller, and with any gratuitous excess fat removed
  • 4 shallots, peeled and segmented (approx 90g)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped small (approx 300g)
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped small (approx 100g)
  • 1 can Homepride Red Wine sauce (400g)
  • 1 whole box of instant mash (160g)

This should make enough for 4 portions.

Method

Cut the beef really small to help it dehydrate faster and more effectively and to improve results when rehydrated. I used a pack of diced beef and cut each piece into 3 or 4.

Cut the beef really small to help it dehydrate faster and more effectively and to improve results when rehydrated. I used a pack of diced beef and cut each piece into 3 or 4. Trim off as much excess fat as possible. It’s fine to leave a bit on to render down when browing off the meat.

Add the chopped celery and shallot. Brown the mixture, keeping it moving well to avoid sticking - there's minimal fat here remember!

Add the chopped celery and shallot. Brown the mixture, keeping it moving well to avoid sticking – there’s minimal fat here remember! When browned, drain off excess fat.

Chuck in the carrots. Here you can get a better idea of the relative sizes I cut everything to.

Chuck in the carrots. Here you can get a better idea of the relative sizes I cut everything to.

Add the sauce and give it a mix. When making this for a normal meal, I usually rinse out the can with a small amount of water. I'm not bothering here as any extra water added only lengthens the dehydration process.

Add the sauce and give it a mix. When making this for a normal meal, I usually rinse out the can with a small amount of water and add to the casserole. I’m not bothering here as any extra water added only lengthens the dehydration process. I’ll add a bit extra when I rehydrate.

Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer over the lowest heat possible for at least 90 minutes. The longer the better.

Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer over the lowest heat possible for at least 90 minutes. The longer the better.

10 minutes before cooking is done, pre-heat the dehydrator. Transfer the mixture to dehydrator lining sheets. As usual, I put one portion per sheet. This meant I had to weigh the cooked mixture first - it had cooked down to almost exactly 1kg, meaning 4 portions of 250g each.

10 minutes before cooking is done, pre-heat the dehydrator. Transfer the mixture to dehydrator lining sheets. As usual, I put one portion per sheet. This meant I had to weigh the cooked mixture first – it had cooked down to almost exactly 1kg, meaning 4 portions of 250g each.

After approx 12 hours of dehydration at 70C (155F). The product loses about 75% of its mass.

After approx 12 hours (turning product over partway through) of dehydration at 70C (155F), the product loses about 75% of its mass. Try to get as much of the thin orange crispy stuff off as possible. This is the sauce.

Started with 370g of uncooked recipe, cooked down to 250g, then dehydrates down to between 60-70g. This is for one portion.

Started with 370g of uncooked recipe, cooked down to 250g, then dehydrates down to between 60-70g. This is for one portion.

Next I put a portion of instant mash powder in a vacuum bag, one end already sealed. The bag adds about 7g to the total.

Next I put a portion of instant mash powder in a vacuum bag, one end already sealed. The bag adds about 7g to the total.

With the dehydrated casserole added.

With the dehydrated casserole added.

Vacuum sealed and then placed in a Mylar pouch. The mash needs 300ml of water to rehydrate, the casserole lost 180ml in dehydration and I have rounded the total up to 500ml because I like my sauce to go a bit further. Plus 500ml is a lot easier to measure

Vacuum sealed and then placed in a Mylar pouch. The mash needs 300ml of water to rehydrate, the casserole lost 180ml in dehydration and I have rounded the total up to 500ml because I like my sauce to go a bit further. Plus 500ml is a lot easier to measure

Calories and Weights

A few comments:

  1. Vacuum packing the meal added an extra 7g to the total weight but should extend the shelf life of the meal considerably. Given the tiny weight and cost impact, I’m going to vacuum pack all of my meals from now on.
  2. When I put the casserole and mash together in the bag, it looked a bit unbalanced in favour of the mash. I won’t find out until I rehydrate. It may be that this meal will work best by reducing the mash or limiting the casserole to 3 portions. Given the modest calorific value compared with some meals, I’d probably make 3 larger portions. This would add about 100 kcal and £0.60 of cost.
  3. Tesco’s instant mash was chosen above Smash because it is higher in calories and carbohydrate than Smash. It is lower in fat too, although that’s not necessarily a good thing in this case.
  4. As usual, I will update this post with the outcome when the meal is finally consumed.

6 thoughts on “Tales from the Dehydrator: No. 2 Beef in Red Wine with Mash

  1. Interesting stuff! I was under the impression the cheaper dehydrators would only really be suitable for fruit etc rather than main meals. Did I read right that this cost you about £40? Might have to invest myself.

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    • Yes £40, but there’s £8 delivery on top. They obviously market them as for fruit, veg and jerky, but I think that’s simply because that’s what people use them for in a domestic situation, so they’re playing to that market. I saw a post on one of the Facebook groups from someone who had this one and showed you could make proper meals with it. And if you dig deep enough in the reviews for this one you will find a couple of people who’ve used it to make the sort of thing I’m doing. Together those gave me the confidence that this one would be OK. Obviously, it’s not as robust as an Excalibur, for example, and it needs to be looked after as the plastic could easily get broken if not careful. The liner sheets are also a must as the holes in the trays are too big to prevent stuff falling through.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds good. I’ve always found it a bit frustrating that the excalibur ones cost so much. Do you mind if I ask which model you got. Maybe I’ll treat myself for valentines day.

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  2. I’d be interested to see how this rehydrates – I’ve started to grate my carrots and to use good quality, low fat minced beef for recipes like this. This makes for quicker dehydration and rehydration.

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