Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hobo Dinner

Part I: The Hobo's Dinner
This weekend we drove up north for Sean's grandpa's 80th birthday and I had a new encounter. I was introduced to the Hobo's Dinner, an Oswald family tradition steeped in lore. I had heard tell of this phenomenon before; Sean had told me tales of his dad cooking a trash can-sized pot over a fire in their driveway and all the neighbors ambling down the street to partake in a meal of sausage, cabbage, corn and potatoes. In case you are a novice to the Hobo Dinner, like myself, I've included the following handy educational illustration:

*note to the viewer* This illustration unfortunately excludes a vital part of the Hobo Dinner: corn. This is placed whole, on the cob, between the meat and onion layers for cooking.
more on the Hobo Dinner after the jump!

Each item in the Hobo's Dinner is placed strategically in a large pot, starting with that which takes the longest to become tender: the potatoes. The cabbage, which is quartered, tops off the whole thing. The pot gets filled with water and salt, pepper, and sugar are added. Then it cooks over a wood-burning fire (Sean has assured me this is vital to the flavor) for around an hour or a little more and then violá! You have a ton of delicious food sure to please a crowd. I have seen recipes that use hamburger for the meat in this, but the Oswalds use brats and ham, the latter of which we've been eating with eggs for breakfast the last two days, and that brings me to my next topic.

Part 2: What to do with the leftovers?
Fortunately for us and our budget, Heidi sent us home with two Tupperware's full of cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots. I felt determined to find a recipe that would use most, if not all, of these ingredients, and primarily the cabbage since we had such an abundance of it. So I went on Epicurious and found a great recipe for potato, green cabbage, and leek soup. I already had most of what it called for and only needed to buy leeks, green onions, a lemon, and a little more chicken stock.
The soup ends up being pretty thick, almost like a porridge, and I didn't follow the recipe exactly to the t. I just threw in all the cabbage and potato I had and then some of the onions to boot. The créme fraîche can easily be substituted with sour cream, which we already had. Even though it's just a garnish, I have to say it's extremely important to the dish. With the lemon juice and zest blended in, it gives the whole soup a nice tart edge. Plus, the dish is very healthy and totally vegetarian. I tried some of it cold today and it still tastes good. Another perk is that it makes a ton and is very filling. Now we have meals through the end of August!