Sloppy Joe's - a tale of a hiker's quest

When you're hiking for a day, a weekend, or even for a month there is one thing every conversation will inevitably turn to - FOOD!  Usually more than once a day we would find ourselves hit with a hardcore craving for food, usually something so impossible to access in the small town resupply stores that the idea of it was absurd.  For NoKey and I in 2012, our food porn was all about Sloppy Joe's.  When we were hiking in Damascus, VA, we did what is called a slackpack.  This is where you leave the majority of your gear in town and take only water and food for the day.  Someone will drop you off and you walk back to your gear.  You can hike out of town, but still come back to town that night.  We did an 18-mile slackpack in 5 hours that day and we hiked back into town, starving of course.  We went to a place in town called Dairy King. The special that evening was Sloppy Joe's with tater tots.  We thought about getting them, but instead we grabbed a burger and a milkshake (blueberry and chocolate peanut butter, respectively) and vowed to go back to Dairy King before we left town the next day for what would undoubtedly be the best meal ever - Sloppy Joe's.  When we left town the next day we discovered it was Sunday.  Sunday's are the WORST DAYS on the AT because it often means all these small businesses are closed.  We fought back tears knowing we had missed our chance for Sloppy Joe's and we talked about them every night for two weeks. 

When we got just south of Waynesboro, VA we had to stop at Dutch Haus, a bed and breakfast/hostel where they would cook lunches and dinners for hikers.  I had the norovirus, meaning I was essentially quarantined in the basement.  It was on this day when I could eat nothing, nor hold it down, that NoKey got not only his two Sloppy Joe's, but also both of mine since I had paid for lunch but could not eat it.  Again, I had missed my chance for Sloppy Joe's.  It was heartbreaking in the mind of a hungry hiker.  The next 1600 miles consisted of the both of us talking about Sloppy Joe's.  We never got them again.  

This story, however, is about to get an incredibly happy ending!  In developing our hiker meals for the summer I came across an article on Chef Glenn's website describing how you can dehydrate your own ground meat.  I had an epiphany: I could make Sloppy Joe's.  We could eat them SEVEN times a piece over the course of the summer!  The food porn that kept us going on our AT thru hike could now become a reality!  While it doesn't look very pretty in the bags, it's going to be incredibly tasty in our stomachs this summer! (Scroll down for recipe!)

 It's not pretty, but it will be tasty!

It's not pretty, but it will be tasty!

The first thing this recipe is going to require is that you cook and dehydrate your meat.  I chose a 93/7 Ground Turkey as fat is a big "no-no" when you're trying to preserve items.  I did 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs mixed with 1 pound of turkey meat before I cooked it.  This helped absorb any remaining fat and kept the meat incredibly dry for the cooking process.  While this isn't really ideal for most conditions, for dehydrating it is a must!  I dehydrated the meat at 145 degrees for 7 hours before it was completely dry.  

For the sauce, you can just use your favorite canned brand or you can make your own.  To dehydrate sauce, spread it in a thin layer over a silicone sheet or a piece of parchment paper on your dehydrator tray.  This dehydrates at 135 degrees for 8-10 hours.  After six hours your sauce should be dry around the edges and gelatinous in the middle.  You will take the sheet it's on, flip it upside down, and peel it off like a fruit roll up, placing directly onto the dehydrator tray.  Let it dry until it's crisp. When it's dry, break it up into smaller pieces and put it in an airtight container until you're ready to package your Sloppy Joe's!

 Sloppy Joe "roll ups."  These might be good all on their own!

Sloppy Joe "roll ups."  These might be good all on their own!

Sprinkles' Sloppy Sammiches - 2 servings
-1 lb dehydrated meat of your choice (using the information above)
-1 can dehydrated Sloppy Joe sauce OR 1 recipe worth of homemade sauce
-2 tsp dried onion flake
-1/2 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
At home prep: 
+In two vacuum sealer bags, split the meat and the sauce leather evenly into two portions. Add 1 tsp dried onion flake, 1/4 tsp paprika, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder to each bag.  Seal them with the vacuum sealer.  (This step is important with dried meat to keep it from spoiling!  If not using within 1 month, keep it in the fridge). 
Trail Prep:
+Pour the contents of the vacuum sealed bag in your pot and pour over just enough water to coat the contents.  Heat the contents to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover.  Let it sit just enough to hydrate everything thouroughly.  
+Spread mixture evenly between two sandwich rounds and enjoy your trail Sloppy Joe's!