Meatballs with braised Swiss Chard.

Swiss chard, beet greens and kale are “it” vegetables and with good reason. Kale in particular is high in iron and fiber; it’s a powerful antioxidant as well as being anti-inflammatory. They are all a good source of vitamin A and all are supposed to be good for cardiovascular health. All three are also bitter, fibrous and a little chewy, but they hold up really well in this recipe.

IMG_20141025_093420.jpgBraising bitter greens is an excellent way to introduce these ingredients into your day to day dinner rotation, as well as your back country meals. Braising makes them less bitter, not at all fibrous and less chewy.

Kitchen Cook Time and Prep: This recipe makes enough for 6-8 back country servings and takes about 60 minutes to prepare.

Tools: You will need a large Dutch oven or stock pot in which to cook. You’ll also need a large cast iron fry pan, a sharp knife and a wooden spoon. In the back country you will need a stove and a pot to boil water. A spoon or spork would be helpful.

Back Country-What to Expect: Expect to be full. This is an incredibly hearty and delicious meal. Served over either mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes it packs a heavy nutrient punch that will satisfy your hunger after a long day on the trail.

Try this recipe out; let me know if you have any questions or comments below, and make sure you share this recipe with your friends that love “hipster” food ingredients and the back country.

Meatballs with braised Swiss Chard
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Kitchen Type: Kitchen
Serves: 6
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or fat of choice
  • 5 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • chicken stock,
  • ⅓ cup pitted olives
  • 1 pound swiss chard/kale/beat greens, coarsely chopped
  • 2 lb. grass-feed ground beef
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp Herb de Provence
  • 1 cup chopped arugula
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 pieces smoky bacon, finely chopped
For the sauce.
  1. Heat the oil/fat over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion and celery, season with salt and pepper and cook over, stirring, until the vegetables are very tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add the chopped Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, 7-10 minutes. A lot of moisture will come out of the greens, if not, add chicken stock in small amounts to form a thick sauce. For a smooth sauce, blend in batches using food processor, or blender. Simmer
For the "meatballs".
  1. In a large cast iron fry pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Add beef and cook for 3-5 minutes. Once beef is cooked, strain under hot water until the water runs clear.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked beef and bacon, Parmesan, crushed red pepper, Herb de Provence, arugula and salt and black pepper. Mix the meat mixture well. Add meat mixture to braised greens and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes.
Back Country Instructions

The first time I made this recipe for the back country I simply mashed a few meatballs from dinner leftovers and dehydrated them along with a cup of sauce for about 8 hours/over night. Once they were completely dried, I vacuum sealed the serving and stored it in the freezer.

This recipe was a favourite on my most recent canoe trip to Algonquin Park. Served over dehydrated mashed potatoes at the end of a long day on the lake, perfect. However, simply dehydrating leftovers isn't the best method for preparing back country meals. You run the risk that the meal could go rancid before you get a chance to cook it due to all the animal fat from the beef and bacon.

Back country preparation is super easy. First allow the dish to cool down to almost room temperature. Once cool, pour 1½ - 2 cups of mixture onto the drying sheet lined dehydrator tray. Use the meat setting (155-165 degrees) for this soup and allow to dry for 10-12 hours, overnight usually will do it. Drying time will depend on many factors, including the consistency of the soup and thickness of the soup loaded into the trays.

Once completely dry break into to small pieces. Store in zip locks or vacuum seal bags. I store all my back country meals in the freezer to prevent spoiling. Serves 1

Back Country Meal Prep

Bring 350ml (1½ cups, 12 oz.) of water to boil. Pour the contents into the pot and boil for 5-7 minutes, or until it looks like it did before you dehydrated it. Serve.


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