Some of my favorite foods are inspired by Mediterranean flavors such as kalamata olives, capers, mint, parsley and lemon. I adore the relationship between savory and sour!
My inspiration for this hash recipe trickled down from some lovely Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) meatball recipes from two of my favorite food blogs; Eat Heal Thrive and Paleo Cajun Lady. I love the meatballs with a dairy-free zucchini-based tatsiki sauce (on Eat Heal Thrive) and a dollop of home made cranberry-maple sauce or smoked cherry barbecue sauce.
Meatballs became burgers…
I was making the greek-inspired meatballs for some time, then they morphed into hamburgers. In this house we grill a lot; to save cooking time each week (the wonders of Batch Cooking!), I grill a big batch of burgers and freeze some for easy pickins later. I like the burgers wrapped in cassava flour tortillas or chapatis with sliced avocado, with one of the sauces mentioned above.
I’m not really much a fan of ground beef—I don’t care for the typically fatty taste. However, I source all my beef from a local ranch where the animals are grass fed and finished, and the ground comes out pretty lean. I like to support local business, and they make it super easy by coming to my local farmer’s market. They are super nice folks, and it’s great to get a taste of small-town friendliness in the big city. Just today I headed to the farmer’s market to pick up some of their products.
Hang on, we’re getting to the backcountry recipe in a moment:
… and burgers became backcountry hash!
I’ve been working on a beef stew recipe. It’s proving a bit tricky as far as balancing flavors, textures and ease of preparation. One day I was eating my Greek-inspired burgers while thinking of the stew recipe, and realized it might be easy to make a backcountry hash based on the burgers… and to my delight, it came out really good!
To wit: my housemate, who is not on AIP, and very, uh, honest in his opinions of my food experiments, tried the hash; he paused, looked up at me with big eyes, and said, “This is really good! And it doesn’t even taste like it was dehydrated!” I was pretty chuffed. No mistake—my housemate understands the ins and outs of AIP, and he appreciates how hard it can be to create recipes that work. When he gives the thumbs up, it’s for real.
We have an inside joke around here; whenever I (very nonchalantly) yell down the hall, “Hey, want to try some of this?”, he groans, and comes dragging a leg into the kitchen like a reluctant puppy, and we both laugh; as with any food blogger, it doesn’t always go well with my projects, but he’s gullible enough to try again every time. Brave soul or true friend, you decide.
I tried the hash on my Mount Olympus trip last weekend. It rocked.
Sometimes things taste fine at home, then on the trail they taste different, or you realize you got the portions wrong or left out some critical flavor. This time it was a total win.
As I sat there watching my friends eat yet another “God this is so boring” Mountain House freeze-dried meal, I couldn’t help feeling a bit smug… but more than smug, I was totally psyched to have another hearty trail dish in my quiver!
Dinner for breakfast for dinner
I brought the hash intending it for three dinners, but on this trip I ate it for breakfast one day, and loved it. As any of you on the Autoimmune Protocol know, breakfast on AIP takes on a whole new personality; the carb-laden, low-protein, nutrient-empty breakfasts of old are no longer, and dinner is breakfast is dinner is breakfast. Yes, I meant to write it that way.
For those of you not on AIP, this may seem weird, but truthfully, the nutritional value and ensuing energy and stamina that ‘dinner for breakfast’ offers, puts any SAD (Sad American Diet) breakfast to shame. And in the backcountry, that’s MONEY. Try it… you may never go back to granola or toast!
Here’s my recipe below. Don’t be daunted by all the steps! It’s easy to prepare; I make my recipe instructions step by step, just in case you’re a newbie at this.
I recommend prepping a double batch, and before the dehydration step, save half out for fresh meals at home. If you don’t, you’ll still find yourself eating the veggie saute mix out of the pan, and then you’ll be left without enough for the trail!
Trust me… been there. Last time I made this, I actually drank the sauce out of the pan after removing the veggies.
For a luxury version on days you have more time to cook on the trail, I suggest wrapping it up in Cassava Tortillas. They are easy to make on the trail, or you can make them at home the night before a day hike (store in the fridge). When I make the tortillas on the trail, I’m fine with eating them the next day.
If you include collagen in your diet for the gut-healing properties, it goes nicely in this dish, and it’s lightweight enough to carry in your pack. If you use Great Lakes brand, remember to use the green bottle (vs. the red bottle), as it dissolves in water.
You could also add more dehydrated greens if you like, such as dried kale, collards, or spinach. If you try the hash recipe and add other veggies that turn out tasty, please share it in the comments!
ADD A CARB!: This hash is made to be served with an added carb. Though it has plenty of veggies in it, they aren’t super-high carb, and you might need more on the trail. On my Olympus trip, I was so tired at dinner, I just mixed in a serving of Cauliflower Couscous and it tasted fabulous. One-pot meal. Caution: the strong couscous flavor can override the delicate hash flavors, so you might want to prepare them separately.
Greek-inspired Backcountry Beef Hash Recipe
Makes three 1.25-cup servings (once rehydrated).
Each serving contains the equivalent of 1/3 lb fresh ground beef.
Serve with Cauliflower Couscous or Sweet Potato/Cauliflower Mashers. If you add in the couscous directly to the dish, it comes out to about 1.75 cups per serving.
If you include collagen in your diet, it goes nicely in this dish.
If you are dehydrated and need extra water, this dish works fine with added water, as a soup.
1 lb lean ground beef (as lean as possible—added fat increases the risk of food spoilage)
1/2 cup red or white onion diced to ¼ inch or smaller
4 garlic cloves, diced to ¼ inch or smaller
1/2 cup chopped parsley (flat or curly)
1 cup shredded zucchini; squeeze handfuls of the shreds to remove extra liquid
½ cup shredded carrot
2 TBS fresh mint (or 2 tsp dried)
2 TBS fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried)
2 TBS lemon juice
16 kalamata olives (pits out), diced to ~1/8 inch in small food processor (making them this small helps them dry at the same rate as the other veggies)
3 TBS capers
OPTIONAL: in your cook kit, bring salt to add at camp—depending on the saltiness of your olives and capers, and your salt needs and preferences, you may or may not need it.
NOTE: Though the parsley stems are packed with nutrition, I like to remove the bottoms so they don’t create hard little sticks that poke holes in the storage bag. Don’t worry about removing the leaves from all the stems. Just remove the larger lower stems and eat ’em raw!
Prepping the beef
1. Put ½ tsp coconut or olive oil in a pan, heat to medium. Use very little oil; the less you have on the final product, the lower the chances for food spoilage.
2. Saute the beef with the oregano until browned.
3. Drain off any extra liquid by tilting the pan:
4. Let cool completely.
5. Break up into even, pea-sized pieces. Smaller pieces will rehydrate better.
6. You can dehydrate the beef right away or store tightly sealed in the refrigerator overnight if necessary; remember, the sooner you dehydrate meat after you buy it, the less chance for spoilage during storage.
Dehydrating the beef
3. Dehydrate at 155° for 8-10 hours, depending on fat and moisture content. If you see fat collecting on the outer surface of the meat as it dries, use a dye-free paper towel to blot it off.
4. Having too much fat in the beef can encourage spoilage. After it’s dehydrated and cool enough to touch (but still warm), lay the beef out on a couple layers of dye-free paper towel, and lay another couple layers on top; press slowly and firmly with your hands to remove as much of the fat as possible. Repeat as necessary.
If you click on the image below, you can see the oil sitting on the meat; this was a lean ground beef, so even here there was some oil to remove after dehydration:
5. Let the beef cool completely.
6. Package in an airtight container and label with name and date.
7. Store for now in the refrigerator or freezer, until the veggies are dehydrated and ready for mixing.
Prepping the veggies
- Dicing all the veggies to a similar size will make them dehydrate more evenly.
- Instead of dicing, run the olives in a small food processor for a few seconds to reduce them to about 1/8-inch size; they contain some oil and take longer to dry than the rest of the veggies, and this will help them dry at about the same rate.
1. Put ½ tsp coconut oil in a large saute pan, heat to medium. Use very little oil; the less you have on the final product, the lower the chances for food spoilage.
2. Saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes till the onions are translucent. DO NOT add more fat unless it’s absolutely necessary. Preferably, add a bit of water to steam them instead.
3. Add the zucchini, olives, capers, carrots and lemon juice, and saute a minute more (did you squeeze the water out of the zucchini beforehand?).
4. Add the parsley, oregano and mint.
5. Saute for another minute to wilt the greens.
6. Take the pan off the burner.
7. Let the mix cool in the pan.
8. Once cool, prop the pan up to let extra liquid drain off, and spoon it out or pour off carefully; this will reduce drying time:
Dehydrating the vegetables
1. Place the cooked veggie mix directly on dehydrator trays in a single, even layer:
2. Dry at 125° for 8-12 hours, depending on moisture content.
NOTE: The olives are likely to dry last. Check them thoroughly; if you need to dry the mix more, it won’t harm the items that are already dry.
3. Once dried, remove trays from dehydrator and let cool completely.
4. Break up the veggie mix by hand, making sure the ingredients are mixed evenly:
Packaging the mix
1. Make 3 equal piles of beef and 3 equal piles of veggies. I use my food scale to weigh them out.
NOTE: When you mix lightweight dried items (veggies) with denser items (meat), the items tend to separate when they get stirred up. Result: if you mix it all then divide into servings to package it, you may end up with unequal proportions of beef or veggies in the servings.
2. Combine the parts and package the servings in airtight, light-proof containers.
NOTES: If you use plastic bags for long-term storage, double-bag them, because the veggies may poke small holes in the plastic. Preferably, store the mix in glass or plastic containers until you bag it up for the trail (make sure to label with serving measurements!). If you use a plastic bag sealer, make sure the mix is broken up with no sharp pieces before bagging. For short term storage on the trail, I use single bags.
3. Label with dish name and date. Include the campsite instructions (below).
NOTE: I like to write out all my trip recipe instructions for campsite prep on one sheet of paper, and keep it in my food stuffsack in a plastic bag. That way I have a single go-to place for instructions. If you write the instructions directly on the ziploc bag, sometimes they get worn off in transit.
4. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until use.
1. Place the mix in a pot.
2. For each serving, add 1.5 cup cold water.
3. Mix it so all pieces are soaked.
4. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. If you want to use less fuel, make your soaking time longer.
5. Put pot on stove, and heat to a boil.
6. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until all parts are rehydrated and soft. Add water to desired consistency. This dish is fine as soup, too.
If you add Cauliflower Couscous directly to the dish, add an extra 1/4 cup water per serving when you soak the hash; add the dried couscous right at the end, and give it a minute or two to rehydrate.
Trail tip: if you know you’ll get into camp late and really hungry (as is common when you get into camp late, right?), plan ahead by presoaking the mix about an hour out on the trail. You’ll need a water-tight bottle or camping pot to do this, such as a wide-mouth Nalgene from which it’s easy to remove the mix. And remember it’s in your pack, so you don’t explode it when you drop your pack in camp!
- Place the mix in a pot.
- For each serving, add 1.5 cup cold water.
- Mix it so all pieces are soaked.
- Let sit for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. If you want to use less fuel, make your soaking time longer.
- Put pot on stove, and heat to a boil.
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until all parts are rehydrated and soft.
- If you add Cauliflower Couscous directly to the dish, add an extra ¼ cup water per serving when you soak the hash; add the couscous right at the end, and give it a minute or two to rehydrate.
Ironically, on my trip last weekend where I field tested this recipe, I was so hungry when I hit camp each night, I forgot to take any photos of the dish either while cooking or in my bowl… so here are some images from a batch I ate at home!
Below: the hash without couscous in it (left) and with couscous added (right):