When visiting my boyfriend’s family in Upstate New York for the first time, I heard them say we were going to make “hobos” over an open fire. Hobo dinners in Girl Scouts meant that you stuffed meat, potatoes, and canned veggies in a foil pouch and cooked it camp side, which were just okay. So, I wasn’t too excited for this family’s hobo dinners. But that changed when I tasted the delicious, ooey-gooey sandwich that came from a scalding hot pie iron that night.
How do you make the BEST hobo dinner? You have a family competition and sample everyone’s sandwich.
Someone in his family declared it a major competition and the prize was a certificate. We were a competitive bunch and I really wanted to win to prove myself as the outsider. While our take on the reuben sandwich didn’t win first place, it received rave reviews. The key was to use homemade sauerkraut, deli cut corned beef, sliced Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on light rye sandwich bread.
The winner of the hobo cook-off in the Sandwich Dinner Category was a copycat version of McDonald’s Bic Mac. It’s layered seasoned ground beef (cooked), cheese, shredded lettuce, thin sliced pickle, and special sauce. DON’T FORGET THE PICKLE! Everyone agrees that the pickle makes the hobo dinner taste just like, or better than, the McDonald’s sandwich.
If my memory serves me correctly, an after-dinner treat made with blueberries, coconut, and white chocolate won best bite in the Dessert Hobo Category.
The flavor combinations are potentially endless and that’s what so fun about eating them around a fire with family and friends. Add the backdrop of tall trees, chill music, and a cold craft beer then the night is just about perfect. (I also wrote a post on Upstate New York breweries, if you’re interested some seriously well-made beer.) There are a few necessary tips that you must follow to ensure a well-fired sandwich.
Tip #1: Close the latch on the pie iron while it’s still empty. Place it on hot coals or logs for at least 5-10 minutes to warm up. Stainless steal pie irons don’t cook your sandwich the right way and often burn the contents. Use cast iron every time!
Tip #2: Remove the pre-heated pie iron from the fire and rest it on a block of wood or another safe, flat surface. Open it and spray it with cooking spray thoroughly.
Tip #3: Line each side of the pie iron with sandwich bread and begin topping it with your choice of meats and cheeses. You must use cheese.
Tip #4: Once your toppings (and possibly squeezed mayo, mustard, dressing) are loaded, close and fasten the pie iron. Place it back on the coals.
Tip #5: Turn your pie iron every 3-4 minutes. You might even need to open it and check for doneness, as every fire is different in temperature.
Final Tip #6: Try not to overcook your hobo dinner (like the one below) because you get distracted chatting fireside.