Camp Recipes: Ramen with Beef Jerky

Camp Recipes: Ramen with Beef Jerky

Coming up with what to cook is hard enough, but keeping your food fresh until it's time to cook can be even more difficult in the outdoors. Especially if you're backpacking, keeping items like raw meats from spoiling is next to impossible unless you want to add the extra weight of a cooler and ice. Regardless of how much space you have to pack, there are alternatives that can help provide the same flavor and effect while taking up less space in your pack. In this post, we're going to explore one of my favorite recipes that use Beef Jerky. Jerky is a great outdoor food; consumed straight from the packaging it provides a healthy amount of protein. However, when looking to add that extra 'bite' to your meal that only meat can provide, Beef Jerky is a perfect, shelf stable alternative to fresh meats you may be accustomed to in your home kitchen. 

Before we get into the recipes, it's important to note that Jerky meats are dehydrated, meaning that the moisture has been removed to allow it to have a long, stable shelf life. Because of this, it may be beneficial to rehydrate your jerky before adding it to the pan, as cooking it straight from the package may lead to drier, hard to chew pieces. If you're adding the jerky into a broth based meal, you can simply add it to the broth to rehydrate as you're cooking. For this recipe, that's exactly what we'll be doing. The added benefit of rehydrating your jerky in a meal with a broth is that the flavors of the jerky will mix in, adding extra flavors to the traditional flavors you're already accustomed to.

One of my favorite backpacking or camping meals is packet ramen. While the cup versions are also convenient and compact, they don't pack as nicely and leave more trash to take care of. The flat rectangle shape of the packet ramen makes it easy to pack, and you don't have to worry about it being crushed since you'll be breaking it into smaller pieces to cook anyways. On top of that, a single packet usually costs around $1 or less, and with a few pieces of jerky, you have a simple, cheap, but filling meal. Packet ramen also takes minimal time to cook, saving you both time making your meal, and fuel to cook it. The best part is that you can eat right out of the pot, which saves time and water when it comes to cleaning.

Making packet ramen is very simple and requires little instruction. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add in your ramen. To fit into a lot of the smaller camp stoves, the ramen may need to be broken up. I've found that 4 pieces works great for a small, single person camp stove. After the noodles are in, add in your beef jerky. Using Boston Jerky's Wicked Hot flavor added a nice kick to the broth, elevating the overall flavor of this simple meal. It's important to note that the jerky flavors will be absorbed into the broth, so the individual pieces will not be as flavorful as eating it straight out of the bag. Using a beef based ramen broth for the best melding of flavors, the spices on the Wicked Hot flavor added a nice bit of heat to the broth. When using the Original flavor, it's a nice complement that adds more depth to the beef flavor, while adding the benefit of additional protein in the meal. Once the noodles are fully cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the seasoning pack. Let it cool for a few moments, and then dig in! 

One small tip to make this dish more enjoyable would be to cut up the jerky into smaller pieces. As the jerky becomes rehydrated, it will balloon in size. Larger pieces have a much softer texture than straight from the package, which could cause issues for some. If this isn't a problem for you, go ahead and toss in those full size pieces. Otherwise, ripping it up into smaller pieces by hand, or cutting larger pieces down with a knife are an easy way to break up the pieces. 

While Ramen and Beef Jerky are the basis of this recipe, you can easily spice this up with other ingredients that are easy to carry. For example, corn is a common addition to traditional Ramen bowls, and canned corn is both easy to carry, and doesn't require additional cooking. Other things, like green onions, add significant flavor as a garnish, requiring no cooking. They're also relatively easy to keep by wrapping in a moist paper towel that can be kept within a plastic bag. One of the great things about Ramen is that there are so many additional ingredients you can add to bring it up to your liking. The pack of noodles itself is a great low cost carb, packs easily, and is readily available just about anywhere. On it's own you really just need a little bit of water to cook, but with some additions, such as the beef jerky, it's become a camp time favorite that consistently ends up in my meal planning. 

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