To me, the ideal backcountry meal is not only tasty but also reasonably healthy, super-easy to prepare, easy to clean up afterward, and doesn't leave you with a lot of waste that will have to be packed out. Yes, there's no end of freeze-dried options available these days, but with few exceptions, I tend to find all-in-one packaged meals somewhat wanting.
Here's a meal I cobbled together in the Canyon that's pretty easy to make, doesn't make a mess, and tastes actually pretty darn good: a simple chicken with broccoli dish. The key here is to combine fresh and packaged elements in a way that fools you into thinking you're eating a fresh-cooked meal. For starters, pick up some cooked chicken in the canned meat section of your grocery store.
This is real chicken, in a bag, that doesn't need to be refrigerated or cooked or otherwise reconstituted. You just have to heat it. Now, get yourself some mashed potato mix. Again, you can find this at any grocery store. Finally, our super-secret ingredient: raw broccoli (asparagus also works well). Chop it up into bite-sized bits and bag it.
I should mention the inspiration for this meal comes from SMG's Neil Satterfield, who taught me the technique. We're going to make the whole shebang with just a jetboil and a bowl. First, boil up a pot of water. Put some potato mix in your bowl, and add just enough boiling water to brew the potatoes. Set the stove on simmer, put your broccoli in the remaining boiling water in the jetboil, and cook to taste.
Fish out the broccoli and add it to your bowl. Turn off the stove, but don't toss out the water. Put your chicken-in-a-bag, bag and all, in the hot water in the jetboil pot, and let the heat of the water heat up the chicken. A minute or two will be plenty. Pull out the chicken, add it to your bowl, and you're done. Eat and enjoy a surprisingly fresh and tasty backcountry meal.
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