When the heat comes in summer, we are grilling as much as possible—even for breakfast! And even when the weather isn’t accommodating, we’ll bring our umbrella to protect us while we’re turning and checking on the food.
Hobo packs are packages of vegetables or meats wrapped in foil and cooked directly on hot coals. They are a simple method and a great time-saver for a busy family because you can make them ahead of time. When you get home, turn the grill on to preheat, grab the hobo pack out of the fridge, and quick-as-a-bunny, you have a nicely cooked meal (uh—no, don’t cook your bunny in a hobo pack).
Although the traditional method is to place the pack directly on hot coals, our modern propane grills will work just as well: Just place the pack on the metal grate and close the lid to keep the heat in. The key to good preparation is to use a tasty balance of food and herbs with the addition of a liquid or fat. Besides being a quick, make-ahead, meal method, it’s also great for camping because you can prepare a bunch of meals ahead of time—with the added bonus that they stack nicely in the cooler.
Our family has added another raised-bed garden this year, and even though we didn’t grow potatoes this time, it’s very easy to grow your own potatoes. Potatoes grown at home
have a flavor like no others. One of my family’s favorite almost-nightly summer side dishes is a potato hobo pack. We’ll eat this all through the summer and never get tired of it (well, maybe now and again we need a break). The Almanac.com General Store
, however, has a unique find in the seasonings area called Camp Mix. These mixes add a nice enhancement to the potato hobo pack and make a simple dish to prepare even simpler. I’m really looking forward to discovering how these Camp Mixes can spice up my other summer staples (any maybe even some winter ones, too!).
Potato Hobo Packs
- 4 or 5 medium Potatoes (sliced thin)
- Camp Mix (Original)
- Camp Mix (Spud Fixin’ Mix)
- ½ stick butter (sliced into 9 pads)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (divided; an option if you like it extra garlicky)
- nonstick aluminum foil (or use regular foil and coat well with a nonstick spray)
Wash the potatoes well under cool water. Peel them if you like, but I prefer to leave the skins on because I think this makes a nice presentation. Slice the potatoes thin, as this will allow them to cook faster and the bottom ones will get crispy. To make this an easy task, I use my mandolin set at 1/8”.
Lay out one piece of nonstick aluminum foil. Start assembling the hobo pack by placing one-third of the slices on the nonstick aluminum foil, leaving about 1-1/2 to 2 inches of foil all around. Sprinkle the layer with Camp Mix and Spud Fixin’ Mix. If you’re adding garlic, now’s the time to scatter 1 teaspoon on this layer, followed by three pads of butter on the top.
Repeat for two more layers. (I try to place butter in different spots on each layer.)
Add a second sheet of aluminum foil to the top. It’s the bottom layer that really gets sticky, and because nonstick foil can be expensive, I use regular aluminum foil for the top. Then seal all of the edges by folding the foil over itself twice.
Once you’ve sealed the pack, if there is a mound of potatoes in your hobo pack, now’s the time to flatten them out by pressing down gently to make an even layer. If you press too hard or too aggressively, the seams will bust out. After you’ve flattened them out, check the seams again and make sure that they are still well sealed. When I’m finished, my hobo pack is about 9x13 inches.
Place on a preheated grill over a medium flame for about 15 to 20 minutes. Every grill is different, so please check on them after 5 minutes to avoid turning them into charcoal chips. My grill has a temperature gauge that shows the inside temperature to be around 425 degrees. You’ll need this high temp to get the bottoms crispy. If you don’t want crispy bottoms, turn it down to 350–375 degrees.
Use a spatula instead of tongs to remove it (the tongs will break the foil). Unwrapped, the potatoes will keep warm for 10 minutes. Enjoy! (These are great reheated for the next day’s lunch, too!)