Joni Woolf: Hobo Hamburgers still a fixture on the food scene

Published 10:31 am Tuesday, February 21, 2017

As I was leaving the grocery store recently, I ran into Alice Davidson, and we chatted about food and recipes. I told her I might be running low on ideas for articles and she mentioned Hobo Hamburgers. In fact, she said, “That’s what I’m fixing tonight.” If I had heard the term, I had forgotten it. So, Alice set about to explain just how to make a hobo hamburger. After that conversation, I mentioned the hobo to others. One said, “I fixed those last night.” And another said, “Oh, yes, I’m fixing those tonight; they’re my husband’s favorite meal.” Well. I tried to remember. Many years ago, I must have prepared this meal. I was married first to a fisherman and second to a trail hiker, and they surely fixed this meal over camp fires (where the term “hobo hamburger” probably originated). But somehow I had missed out on the finer points of this standard yet simple meal. I stand subdued.
I plan to make up for all the years I did not make this particular meal for family (though we did eat many hot dogs on the run during Little League years). At this late date, I am going to try my luck with the recipe as Alice gave it me (with apologies to Alice for anything I leave out or forget).

Hobo Hamburger
Ground beef
Seasonings to taste
Shape ground beef (with salt and pepper added) into patties. Top each patty with chopped potatoes, carrots and onions. Put a pat of butter on top and sprinkle with a little Worcestershire sauce. Wrap each patty in tin foil, place on cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree F. oven about an hour. (After 45 minutes, check to see if vegetables are becoming tender.)  Let cool about five minutes and enjoy.

Searching the Internet, I found all kinds of variations to the Hobo. Some added an envelope of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix to the meat before shaping into patties. Others added different vegetables, including celery and garlic. Perhaps the only limit on ingredients is your imagination, as you explore new ways to elevate the lowly hamburger to a status enjoyed by trail hikers and — of course — hobos!
A nice side dish to this might be oven-cooked Sweet Potato Fries. Sweet potatoes are one of nature’s best gifts: they are lovely to look at, easy to prepare, and very good for you. So, try these oven fries. They could cook alongside the Hobo Hamburger for the last half-hour of cooking time.

Sweet Potato Fries
Cut 2 pounds sweet potatoes in French fry shape. Combine the following in medium sized bowl:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon salt
Toss the potatoes in seasoning mixture until thoroughly coated. Place on cookie sheet, spread out to single layer, and put in 350 degree F. oven and bake 15 minutes. Stir and turn potatoes, then cook 10 minutes longer. This is an excellent side dish with hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, or even with a sandwich. Good food is not always a test of endurance for a busy cook. Sometimes it simply means tossing a few things together, and voila! Here’s a meal.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at