BWCA Cooking - Meat Sauce

A little glimpse into some of the cooking we did for our 2017 Boundary Water trip. This is a dehyrdated meat sauce with linguine noodles in one pot. In the other pot is a green bean hotdish. This was a great comfort after paddling in the rain for three hours. I became interested in making my own dried camping meals out of customization and cost savings. My wife has issues with some pretty common things like Garlic, Black Pepper, spicy/acidic foods. All are pretty strong staples of the camping kitchen. So finding options devoid of these is pretty difficult so I invested in a dehydrator and here we are. Also those freeze dried meals can add up quickly, especially with a larger group. Homemade is a time investment but I find the whole process to be intriguing and fun. 


Sausage Tomato Pasta Sauce - Backpacker/Paddling friendly

  • 8oz Italian style sausage (bulk or casings removed) -more if you want meatier sauce, spicy also an option here
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (I like red but green works well too) 
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 2 gloves garlic minced (or omitted as we do in our house)
  • 8oz tomato sauce (canned or homemade) 
  • 1 tsp dried crumbed basil (Less if you prefer) fresh could substituted but will dry slower
  • 1/2 tsp dried crumbed oregano (less if you prefer)
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 7 Tbsp tomato paste

Carried separately: 

  • 1/2lb Linguine noodle broken in half, or better yet, pot sized noodles that come pre-cut to the right length.  
  • Shelf stable Parmesan cheese for topping.  

You'll notice no salt added here as the canned tomato products have lots of it already. I try to buy the less salted versions of anything canned if I can but sometimes the extra sodium is good  when you've been working hard. I do add some to the pasta water as it's the only way to season it right away. The tomato paste in this dish intensifies the tomato flavor and stands up to rehydration at camp.

Here's how were going to make this travel friendly. Removal of much of the fat from the sausage and then drying the mixture afterwards. It should be held in the fridge until you depart for your trip. I also like to vacuum seal the mixture for added protection and portability.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium making sure to break the it up by stirring. Cook until no longer pink. Remove sausage from the pan and place into colander, rinse with very hot water to remove the excess fat. Set cooked sausage aside. 

Be sure to have some  fat left in the pan, now add the tomato paste. Cook it for 5 minutes to release some of the can off flavors that may be present. Next add bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic to skillet. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all those good bits of sausage into the mixture. Cook mixture until tender with a little snap left. ~10 minutes. 

Now add the tomato sauce, herbs, Andy drained sausage back to the skillet. Let this simmer for an additional 10 minutes, letting the flavors come together. Turn off the heat.

Spread the mixture over liner sheets or plastic wrap lined trays of a dehydrator. Dry at 150-160 until the mixture is brittle. around 7-10 hours. Cool the mixture completely before packaging to elimate moisture condensation. Remember to keep thing in the fridge until you depart for your trip.

  At Camp

Open sauce package and add 1 cup of boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes. In the mean time, get an additional 3 cups of water boiling with a little sea salt (~1tsp) in a larger pot. Boil linguine for 5 minutes then add the hydrated sauce to the pot. Turn heat down a little bit and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. At the end most of the liquid water should have absorbed into the pasta and/or sauce.

Serve into individual bowls and top with the Parmesan cheese.  


This recipe is based on a recipe found in  The Back Country Kitchen: Camp Cooking for Canoeists, Hikers and Anglers