Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hobo Pack Green Beans with Hearts of Palm


 8 oz Green Beans (Fresh)
1/2 Onion, Chopped
14 Oz Hearts of Palm, Sliced 
4 Tablespoons Butter


Here’s a simple yet tasty side dish that really amps up green beans with the exotic, subtle tang of Hearts of Palm.  And to add to the fun, we’re cooking it Hobo Pack style. 

Hobo Pack cooking is simply wrapping said food items in foil, or more specifically, a little foil pouch that you construct with Reynolds Wrap or similar, and then cooking the pack on an open fire.  It’s great for camping, as the packs can be made up in advance at home, and then tossed on the coals of the camp fire come dinner time.  (Don’t forget some tongs)  I don’t camp much these days, but I love making hobo packs and using them on the grill, particularly with sides like Hobo Pack Potatoes, this green bean dish here, or hell, I guess you could even consider my Corn on the Cob technique an example of Hobo Pack Cooking. 

So, the question is, where’d the name come from, and were any actual hobos involved with the creation of this technique?  I’d say it’s doubtful, as I doubt real hobos had much access to aluminum foil out there riding the rails, but then again, who knows.  I think it’s more likely the technique came about from overzealous scout masters looking for an easy way to feed their troops, and it was tagged with a romanticized, ‘railroady’ name.  Whatever the case, it’s a great technique for cooking directly on an open fire, and vegetables do quite well with Hobo Pack Cooking.  You can cook your packs right down in the coals while you spit-roast or grill your meats up above. 

I came up with this little dish after I returned from a trip to Brazil, where I discovered the delicacy that is Hearts of Palm.  

This little vegetable (Is it a vegetable?  I think it is) is literally the harvested core of certain species of palm trees.  Yes, you are eating a tree.  I know, weird, but it ain’t like Euell Gibbons eating tree bark, for the Heart of Palm is soft and delicate, with a wonderfully subtle tangy flavor that will accent lots of dishes, particularly salads and some pastas.  I don’t really know where I came up with combining them with green beans, but I did, and it was good.  The Hobo Pack technique works particularly great with this one, as the beans get steamed to perfection while the Hearts of Palm develop a nice roasted flavor.

Hobo Pack Green Beans with Hearts of Palm

Spread three good sized sheets of aluminum foil on your countertop.  Place half of the pats of butter on the foil in the center, then the green beans, the onion, and finally the hearts of palm.

Place the remaining pats of butter on top of this.  Fold the Foil over to form a packet.  Seal the edges so when the butter melts it will not drip out.

Place the foil pack directly on smoldering coals of a campfire of charcoal grill.  

Note, you can do this on a gas grill as well, but it won’t develop quite as much flavor.  If you do use a gas grill, just put the pack on the rack above the gas flames.  No contact cooking possible here. 

Roast the pack for 8 minutes or so and then flip and roast another 8.  Remove from the fire and let cool for a couple minutes, then open the pack and serve immediately.  

Here we've served some with a main course of Chicken Portieri.

Until next time, may the road rise up to meet ya!


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