We camped a lot growing up.
We mostly camped in Southern Utah, on multi-day river trips, and in Mexico.
And my mom had a couple go-to camping meals that we usually ate. Hawaiian haystacks was one of them. It’s great for camping because you can prepare the chicken sauce ahead of time and freeze it. Then it acts as a block of ice in your cooler and stays good until day 2 or 3 of your trip. When dinner time rolls around all you do is heat up the chicken sauce, make some rice, and prep the toppings. Pretty simple and so fresh and filling while camping. Everyone can make it how they like it. Even Jimmy loves the chicken sauce.
But, I’ve taken my mom’s Hawaiian haystacks to the next level. First, I made the sauce from scratch. No more Campbell’s cream of chicken soup—although I love that version too and totally won’t judge you if that’s your preferred method.
And second, I added coconut milk and a bit of fish sauce to give it a Thai twist. This isn’t my original idea. It’s my cousins’ concoction and I learned it while camping with them. You see, Hawaiian haystacks + camping = happiness.
When I’m making this meal at home I cook my rice with homemade chicken bone broth. This adds extra nutrients to the rice. But when I’m camping I use plain old water because I don’t want to haul the bone broth with me. I put cashews on mine instead of chow mein noodles because I try to stay away from processed/refined food. But again, those noodles are crunchy yum, so I’ve added them to the recipe as an option. You decide.
This is a great way to use leftover meat from a pasture-raised whole roast chicken. I use all-purpose flour because it’s needed as a thickener in this case. And I’ve not found anything that works as well as all-purpose flour. Have you? Arrowroot powder was my go-to for a while, but it really doesn’t work as well. And sprouted wheat flour doesn’t work as well as a thickening agent either. Do you have tips for me regarding a healthier thickening agent?
Use full fat coconut milk—it’s good fat. And it will help the consistency of the sauce. I like Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk. And don’t forget the fish sauce. If you’re worried about the fish sauce—don’t be. It won’t make your Hawaiian haystack taste like fish. It simply adds some salty flavor to the gravy. I like this Thai Kitchen fish sauce. I also like to use basmati or jasmine rice with this recipe to go along with the Asian taste.
I love eating Hawaiian haystacks after a long day of hiking around in the red dirt of Southern Utah. Thanks Mom for the tradition and thanks cousins for the delicious adaptation.
- 2 cups dry rice
- 3 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- ½-1 can coconut milk, full fat
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 cup cashews, roughly chopped
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced green pepper
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 15 oz can mandarin oranges
- 15 oz can pineapple chunks
- 2.25 oz can sliced olives
- 5 oz pkg chow mein noodles
- Cook the rice in a rice cooker or in a pot on the stove per the rice's instructions.
- While the rice is cooking, heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until melted.
- Add the chopped onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
- Sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic and let cook on medium heat for 1 minute. This gets rid of the floury flavor.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer stirring constantly.
- Add the salt, pepper, and precooked chicken.
- Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce.
- Cook until the sauce is hot and has reached your desired thickness.
- Serve over rice and top with your favorite toppings.
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