Eggplant gets kind of mushed up as it cooks in the hobo pack, which actually turns out to be a good quality, particularly if it’s getting mushed up with tomatoes and garlic. In this dish, the lemons soften, turn a little brown, and give off some aromatic flavor, as well as acting as a heat shield of sorts for the other ingredients.
1. Lay out two sheets of heavy-duty foil, each about 2 feet long, one on top of the other. Place the lemon slices in the center, then put the eggplant quarters on top. Follow with the tomatoes and garlic, add the herbs, and drizzle with the olive oil. Lay a third length of heavy-duty foil over the top. Fold the edges of the sheets together on all sides, closing the pack, then roll them up until they bump into the food, forming a ridge around its perimeter. Place the pack right side up in the center of a fourth length of foil and fold the four sides over the top of the packet, one after another.
2. Now the package is ready for the coals. The fire should have passed its peak of intensity and be dying down, so that it consists primarily of glowing coals covered with a thin film of gray ash but very few flickering flames in other words, you want a medium to low dying fire. Clear a place for the foil packet, leaving a thin layer of coals. Place the packet on the cleared area and heap up coals all around, but not directly on top. Cook, keeping watch and shifting the packet as needed so it is continuously in contact with glowing coals, for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the intensity of the coals.
3. Remove from the coals, unroll the foil, and serve at once.
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Christopher Schlesinger is a chef (he was the winner of the 1996 James Beard award for Best Chef of the Northeast), restaurateur, writer, cooking teacher and a founding member of the national organization Chefs 2000. With John Willoughby he co-authored five cookbooks, including the James Beard Cookbook award-winner The Thrill of the Grill. They also have a monthly feature in The New York Times, and have written articles for magazines such as GQ and Food & Wine. He serves as a contributing editor for Saveur magazine.
John Willoughby served as executive editor at Gourmet, senior editor at Cook's Illustrated and has co-authored eight cookbooks, including James Beard award-winner The Thrill of the Grill. He writes for publications such as The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Metropolitan Home and Saveur.