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Hobo Packs are the perfect companions for any crew of campers. Chunks of beef and potatoes are swaddled in tin foil and then cozied up in the campfire to cook. By the time you find the flashlight buried in the bottom of your trunk and pitch your tent, your hands-off dinner will be ready. Hobo Packs and the great outdoors are the only things you’ll need to be a happy camper this summer!
- 1 pound stew beef
- 2 pounds red potatoes
- 1 cup pearl onions
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- ¾ cup beef stock
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
1. To make Hobo Packs, begin by prepping the filling. Rinse and scrub the potatoes, but don’t worry about peeling them. The skin on red potatoes is thin and adds a lot of flavor. Pat the potatoes dry and then chop into 1-inch chunks. Peel the pearl onions by cutting on the top and bottom and then using a paring knife to slice vertically down through just the top layer. Then use the tip of the knife to peel back the layer to remove the peel. Alternatively, you can quickly blanch the onions, which will make them much easier to peel. Next, chop the stew beef into small, bite-sized chunks. Transfer the potatoes, onion and beef into a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside for now.
2. Now it’s time to make the braising liquid and prep the flavor boosters. Rinse and dry four sprigs of fresh rosemary and then bruise lightly with the back of your knife. This will release some of the oils from the herb and maximize the flavor. Next, smash the cloves of garlic with the broad side of your knife and peel the cloves. Finally, mix the Worcestershire sauce and beef stock together and stir to combine (I will typically use a 2-cup measuring cup and measure/mix the ingredients at the same time).
3. Tear off four large pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil and lay them out along your countertop. Pour the olive oil over beef mixture and toss to coat. Evenly divide the mixture across the four pieces of foil and then add a sprig of rosemary and two cloves of garlic to each piece as well. Bring the four corners of each piece of foil together in the center and scrunch the foil hold a funnel shape. Don’t seal it all the way just yet. Pour a 1/4 cup of the beef stock mixture into each pouch and then seal them. If you are going to cook these in the oven, a single layer of foil is fine, just be careful with them. I would also roll down the foil a little bit so that they fit in the oven. If you are planning to cook them n a campfire, a second layer of foil is a necessity. However, leave the seal in the center fairly tall as it makes for a good handle for your tongs to grab while putting them in and out of the fire.
4. If cooking in an oven, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. Allow the Hobo Packs to cool on the stove a little bit before opening them. I would recommend using oven mitts as the steam is quite hot when you first open the pouches.
If cooking them in a campfire, build a decent fire and let it go for a little while to establish a nice hot bed of embers. I like to move some of the embers over to one side of the fire pit (while keeping the main fire going) and then nestle the pouches amongst the embers. Be careful with the pouches because if they puncture and the sauce runs out, the meat and potatoes will burn quickly and you’ll be in for a pretty dry dinner. Let them cook in the fire 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how hot your fire is getting. Let them cool and then transfer to plates before enjoying.