The original cookbook recipe calls for chicken thighs to be marinated in a refrigerator overnight with white wine, olives, capers, prunes, and a bunch of amazing ingredients. Then, the chicken is supposed to be patted with brown sugar and baked in an oven for an hour. Pretty much none of that is compatible with biking, camping, or backpacking. It requires equipment you don’t have, ingredients that need to be refrigerated, and an incredible amount of time. So our friends at Fresh Off the Grid developed this version to be super-simplified and hyper-condensed.
We start with a pouch of chunked chicken breast, which is available in most major grocery stores. The pouch is superior to canned chicken because it can be compressed after use and takes up less space in your pack. Obviously, this isn’t an ideal cut of chicken, but if you want shelf-stable, non-freeze dried chicken in the backcountry, this is really your only option.
Once the chicken is brown(ish), add water and a broth packet for extra flavor, bring that up to a boil, pour in the couscous, sliced dried prunes, spices, cover, and remove from the heat.
Now here’s the hardest part. The pot is going to start smelling absolutely delicious. Especially, if you’re at the end of long day of hiking, the smell can be intoxicating. But you’ve got to let it sit for at least 5 minutes so the couscous can cook, and then add in the olives and vinegar packets. Once that time has elapsed, you’re “supposed to” fluff the couscous with a fork, but that process is usually accomplished by us wildly digging in.
Unlike other backpacking meals, this recipe doesn’t use any dehydrated ingredients. It also is comprised entirely from whole foods. And with the exception of the chicken pouch and broth, everything is pretty minimally processed. Despite all of that, it’s still incredibly calorie dense and lightweight, while delivering huge amounts of flavor.
- 1/2 cup couscous
- 1/2 cup dried prunes, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 broth packet
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, or 1 olive oil packet
- 1 (7 oz) pouch chicken
- 1 (2.5 oz) pouch pitted green olives
- 2 vinegar packets, optional
- BEFORE YOUR TRIP: place the couscous, chopped prunes, oregano, sugar, salt, and garlic powder in a small ziplock bag. Pack along the other packaged ingredients: chicken, olives, olive oil, broth packet, and vinegar packets. (Smaller items like olive oil, broth, and vinegar can be stored inside the baggie with the couscous mix.)
- AT CAMP: Bring 1/2 cup (4 oz.) water to a boil. Add the broth packet, olive oil, couscous mixture, and chicken to the pot, give it a big stir to combine, take it off the heat, and cover. Allow it to stand 5 minutes to allow the couscous to absorb all the liquid. Once the couscous has fluffed up, add the vinegar (if using) and the olives and stir again to combine. Dig in!