When I was a Brownie in second and third grade, we actually wore the whole little brown outfit, complete with beanie and sash. My mother had to sew patches on the sash for each activity I mastered; she didn't have to do much sewing. I learned to make seed jewelry and s'mores but my favorite of all activities was making Hobo Packets.
Hobo Packets are vegetables such as carrot, potato and onion chunks wrapped in foil and buried in the coals of a campfire until they are cooked. We Brownies would assemble these packets ourselves from ingredients somebody's mother had kindly prepped ahead of time and the troop leader would put them in the fire and take them out as we anxiously watched our own particular packet. The vegetables were always very plain but the thrill of having made the packets ourselves enhanced the flavors.
Don't know why I thought of Hobo Packets again fifty-some-odd years later but the idea seemed like a fun one to try again. My tastes have changed a bit since Brownie days, however, so I decided to make a fancypants version to accompany our grilled grass-raised beef tenderloin. To a handful of fingerling potatoes, I added whole garlic cloves, thickly sliced onion and thinly sliced kohlrabi, a blob of my frozen duxelles, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. I arranged the veggies all in a single layer and, because I didn't have the heavy-duty kind of foil, I made four layers of the thin foil to protect the veggies from the heat. Even so, there were charred spots - another time, I'd use the heavy-duty foil.
Using very long tongs, I tucked them right next to the coals in my Weber grill and turned them a quarter turn every 12-15 minutes for about 45 minutes; I think two turns really would have been enough as the fire was pretty hot. What emerged was all golden and gorgeous with tips of black in some places. The onions completely dissolved as did the duxelles, and the garlic went all soft and squishy, mingling their heady flavors around the potatoes and kohlrabi slices. It was the perfect accompaniment to the slightly smoky beef, which was grilled on the grate above the same fire, and some fresh asparagus.
In honor of my Brownie days, I should have made s'mores for dessert. Maybe next time.
Labels: Hobo Packets, kohlrabi, potatoes