College Graduate Seeks Dinner for Hobos

July 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

A couple weekends ago I found myself in a drunken mass of college graduates cheering on professional cyclists as they made 10 laps around Philadelphia. Apparently, the Philadelphia Bike Race is the Preakness of Pennsylvania. Fortunately, my post-grad year has been good to me and and now I’ve been to both. I’d liken this bike race to something like NASCAR for hipsters: everyone drinks, everyone loses count of the laps, and the event devolves into an alcohol saturated riot that almost makes you forget that it’s a celebration of athleticism. (Okay, so that last part might not apply to NASCAR…) Well, luckily for me I have an amazing friend who biked across the United States last summer–that’s right, the whole thing–who showed me not only the finer points of Manayunk, but the complex world of bike racing.

When Diane told me that we’d be having a barbeque, I imagined some frozen hamburgers slapped onto a grill and some potato rolls. I should’ve known better. Waking up bleary eyed from a previous night of drinking, she hauled us to Reading Terminal to grab what we needed for “Hobo Dinners.” Uh, what? Well, I can promise you that these were way better than what any hobo would have. Provolone and broccoli rabe sausages? Organic fingerling potatoes? Shallots?! Oh, I had another think coming….

When we got back home, we immediately began chopping vegetables for what turned out to be hours. As we set a table full of bowls of potatoes, carrots, onions, shallots, garlic, squash, and eggplant, we looked at the clock and realized we’d spent over two hours choppin’ away without a care in the world. It immediately took me back to an oral history that I conducted with an old County man about stuffed ham–a dish that requires a considerable amount of fine chopping and makes kale and cabbage explode across the kitchen in a green and white confetti that is damn near impossible to clean up entirely. He looked at me and said, “The chopping took hours, but it was not drudgery; it was a party. It’s how we kept up with each other.” He nailed it.

Diane went the extra mile and added sports themed labels to every bowl.

I’d never had a hobo dinner in my life. I wouldn’t exactly say that I come from a family of mountain men. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the very reason all of my immediate family is still alive today can nearly entirely be attributed to the fact that we never, ever camped in the woods together. We would’ve killed each other.

But hobo dinners are good for groups; you take a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle it with some oil, add in your meats, veggies, and any seasons that you’d like, seal it up, throw it on the grill (or hot coals, if you aren’t in the middle of a city…) and BAM, you’re eatin’ dinner in 15 minutes flat.

And everyone can have what they want. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

And you know what happens when you add andouille and broccoli rabe sausage to a hobo dinner? Well, it ain’t so hobo anymore.

Topanga’s Hobo Dinner

Vegetables (Choose whatever’s on hand or in season. You can add whatever you want, but potatoes, onions, and carrots are staples.)
Meat (Can be ground beef, sausage, chicken, beef cubes, I think you get where I’m going…)
Seasoning (Salt and pepper, we all added Old Bay, obviously)
1. Chop up all vegetables into even sized pieces to ensure uniform cooking. (This takes forever in a great way, find a buddy and get a-talkin’ and a-choppin’!)
2. Crank up the grill to medium-high heat.
3. Break up sausages (or whatever you’re using) into one inch pieces.
4. Rip off a sheet of aluminum foil about 14-18 inches long and drizzle with oil.
5. Pile on the vegetables and meat. Season as desired. Seal that sucker up by wrapping it up nice and tight.
6. If you got a crowd, write your name on your hobo. Throw it on the grill.
7. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through. You can always check to see how everything’s looking (the potatoes always seem to take the longest to cook through) by opening up you hobo and resealing it if it’s undercooked.
8. Allow to cook before tearing into it. You don’t even need a plate!

§ 3 Responses to College Graduate Seeks Dinner for Hobos

  • An Inquiring Reader says:

    I don’t have the patience to manually chop things. Also, I don’t like hobos. Can I use a food processor instead?

    • erinbyrdryan says:

      Self-loathing hobo, are we? I’d give you a detailed explanation of the impact of loud, whirring kitchen appliances on communal cooking effortsssssssssnnnoooooooorrrrrrreeee!

  • Julianne says:

    Hey Erin! I laughed out loud reading this intro. I didn’t know anything about the bike race until I moved downtown, and when I heard it described, I thought to myself, “What is this? Preakness?” Great minds think alike!

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