Tales from the Dehydrator: No 5 Lamb Tagine

In my quest to make a dehydrated meal that isn’t bovine in origin, I finally got around to it, and set about a lamb dish we eat every so often at home. I was particularly drawn to this one because the grain this would be served with would be cous cous. Since the cooking method for cous cous simply involves pouring boiling water on it and leaving it to stand for a few minutes, this would suggest it is the ideal thing to use in a dehydrated meal.

Recipe

  • 600g of diced or minced lamb with obvious excess fat trimmed off (brought it down to about 516g)
  • 300g of peeled/chopped onion.
  • A couple of cloves of garlic
  • Cinnamon (3 tsp)
  • Coriander (3 tsp)
  • Cumin (2 tsp)
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • 1 Lamb oxo cube
  • 200ml of water
  • 150g dried apricots, cut up.
  • 75g sultanas
  • A big carrot, cut up small. In my case this came to 182g. The carrot is just put in to bulk the meal out a bit. Consider it optional.
  • Pepper to taste

Method

Put the trimmed lamb, onion and garlic in a pan to brown. No fat needs to be added as the remaining fat in the meat will be enough. Keep it moving to prevent sticking though.

When browned, add spices and carrot and cook for a minute. Then add stock, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour.

After an hour add the fruit. Because the apricots are a lot bigger than the sultanas and because small = good when dehydrating, cut the apricots up to about the same size as the sultanas. Quartering is probably enough. For reference, the carrot was cut up into the same sort of size too.

Stir everything together and simmer the tagine for a further hour and a quarter.

Divide the cooked mixture evenly between 4 dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 70C for 14 hours, making sure you turn the stew over 3-4 hours in to expose the wetter side to the air. Turn it again if needed 3-4 hours before the end. Rotate the trays frequently.

After dehydrating for 14 hours.

Measure out 100g of cous cous (or however much you want) and add a portion of the dehydrated mixture. I then sealed it up in a vacuum bag and placed in a mylar pouch which was then itself heat sealed.

The Stats

A few things to note:

  1. The cost of this meal per portion is a bit higher than those done previously. This is due to the price of lamb. You could make this meal with beef instead, and indeed we do at home as my daughter refuses to eat lamb.
  2. It’s also the heaviest meal made so far.
  3. Cous cous needs 150ml per 100g of uncooked cous cous. The resulting mixture will be a little more than double in weight.
  4. Whenever we cook this at home, I always add more water to the recipe, and even then it still comes out a bit dry when eating. Cous cous is basically a sponge so any moisture will get soaked up. It would be perfectly reasonable to go overboard with the water when reconstituting to hopefully get a wetter meal. If in doubt that this might lead to a watery dinner, then crumble in an extra lamb stock cube when bagging it up.
  5. Feel free to bulk the meal out further with vegetables as required. But cut them all to a similar size as the fruit.
  6. Also feel free to vary the spicing according to your personal taste. The spices add negligible weight, cost and calories anyway.
  7. I found that my quite small chunks of lamb suffered from case hardening in the dehydration process. Therefore, I would recommend that you either shred the lamb once cooked before dehydrating, or work with minced lamb in the first place.

Update

The first go at rehydrating and eating one of these was on my recent local bivvy out. The cous cous of course worked fine, but it does tend to soak up all of the water it is offered, so there wasn’t really anything in the way of sauce when I came to eat the meal. But this is exactly what I expected. Disappointingly the lamb had hardened to a degree that it was rather unpleasant and I ended up discarding most of it. It reminded me of the tales from the days of sail when sailors would be served lumps of meat that were hard enough to carve into. This experience appears to bear out the view that the smaller your meat the better for dehydrating.

 

2 thoughts on “Tales from the Dehydrator: No 5 Lamb Tagine

    • I tried eating this particular recipe last night. Lamb was too tough to eat. I’d advise using either lamb mince or finely shredding the lamb before dehydrating. That’s what I’ll be doing next time.

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