Tales from the Dehydrator: No. 4 Pasta Bolognese

I’m desperate to increase the variety in my dehydrated meals, as everything so far seems to be beef based, but recent attempts to introduce lamb have been thwarted. The meals I dehydrate are chosen to fit in with the household menu for the week, and as luck would have it last minute hiccups have prevented Lancashire Hot Pot and Lamb Tagine from being made, and hence dehydrated. Hopefully they’ll come soon. In the meantime, the dependable favourite, Spag Bol, was being made for dinner, so it was easy to make a double batch and dehydrate some of it.

The method for this isn’t really vastly dissimilar to the chilli recipe, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

Recipe

  • 500g lean minced beef (5% fat)
  • 132g of bacon with fat trimmed off – a couple of thick rashers or 3-4 thinner ones
  • 100g of celery – about 2 sticks
  • 334g onion, chopped
  • Beef stock, 1 Oxo cube in 150ml water
  • 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • A tablespoonful of plain flour
  • A squeeze of garlic puree, or use actual garlic if you can be bothered
  • A big squeeze of tomato puree
  • Oregano, as much as you want
  • Nutmeg, some
  • Pepper to taste (which means shed loads in my case)

Obviously some of the quantities above aren’t that round in figures as they are resulting weight after trimming and chopping etc. For example, my onions were a bit smaller than usual, so I think I used 3. Normally I’d put one really big onion in this recipe. Whatever, just make the sauce to your own requirements – the measurements given here are mainly to illustrate what happens to the weights in the cooking and dehydrating process.

Method

Mince, bacon, onion and celery in a pan to brown.

Mince, bacon, onion and celery in a pan to brown. Drain off excess fat, then add flour and purees to absorb any remaining moisture.

Add stock, herbs and spices and cook for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, stir, bring to the boil and leave to simmer.

Add stock, herbs and spices and cook for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, stir, bring to the boil and leave to simmer.

When ready, 40 minutes or so later, spread on dehydrator sheets. I weighed mine out into 4 equal portions.

When ready, 40 minutes or so later, spread on dehydrator sheets. I weighed mine out into 4 equal portions. Dehydrate at 155F (70C) for 12 hours (ish)

To bag up the meals I weighed out 75g of soup pasta (ideally I'd have gone for more, but I ran out), and stuck it in vacuum bags.

To bag up the meals I initially weighed out 75g of soup pasta as that’s all I had once spread between 4 portions. I wanted nearer to 100g of pasta, so in the end only made 3 portions of pasta, leaving the 4th portion sauce only (which I would then stick in the freezer for use as emergency sauce)

The sauce dehydrated down to about 68-70g per portion.

The sauce dehydrated down to about 68-70g per portion.

The sauce was added to the pasta, then vacuum sealed and placed in mylar pouches.

The sauce was added to the pasta, then vacuum sealed and placed in mylar pouches.

The Stats

dehydratingpastabolognese

This one came out a bit heavier than the other meals, due to the weight of the uncooked pasta. But it’s also heavier on the calories. I’m expecting this one to reconstitute well (unlike the fiasco of the Beef & Mash the other day), although there’s a slight question mark over how well the pasta will cook, being left in a cosy for 10-12 minutes. Only one way to find out….

Update

I took one of these on my recent trip to the Lakes and had it for dinner one night. Although prepared in a youth hostel kitchen with water boiled from a kettle, it was a reasonable test. There was no measuring jug available to gauge the amount of water exactly, so I did exactly what I do on a camp – I judged it by eye. The meal was given a thorough stir and placed in my pouch cosy for 10 minutes. The result was then tipped into a bowl to eat as I was in civilisation (in the field I’d just give it another stir and eat it from the pouch). It came out ok

The only negative was that it tasted a little blander than the fresh meal would have done. I made this as a second batch alongside dinner the night I did it, and it’s possible that I may not have cooked it for long enough to let the flavours infuse fully. In any case it was sufficient for eating on a windswept mountain. It clearly tasted home cooked. I’ll beef up the intensity of the flavours for the next batch, or may simply chuck in a stock cube into the pouch. The pasta was cooked but still al dente, so basically as the experts tell you to serve it. I generally like my pasta just a little softer, but the way it came out would be fine on the hill. Importantly, in the reconstitution process I got none of the issues with crispy bits that you sometimes get with commercial meals. All in all a success.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s