Kamping Country – Which Camp Oven is Best For Camp Fires?
By KK Owner Monica Coleman
Which is best – cast iron or spun steel?
They are both great at different things so I travel with one of each. Hubby’s not too happy though as he’d love to replace the weight of the cast iron pot with even more tools and spare parts! But then again he does love his food….
My Bedourie Oven is made of spun steel and hence is nice and light. This means it will heat up very quickly but will also cool down very quickly. So it’s ideal for quick cooking such as scones, pies, frittatas and other egg dishes. The pot itself can also be used as a saucepan on the stove top and really comes in handy when you’ve caught some yabbies or crabs. Its lid covers the pot completely, which reduces the chances of getting ash inside but also makes it hard to remove easily.
My cast iron pot is heavy, so it will take a long time to heat up and is best pre-heated before use. Once you’ve got those hot coals loaded on top it will stay hot for a very long time. It’s great for roasts, stews, curries etc. The lid sits on the inside rim of the pot so you have to be very careful when lifting the lid otherwise you’ll be eating charcoal stew.
What else do you need?
Whichever pot you end up with, you’ll need some basic accessories. The most useful item is a pair of welding gloves, allowing you to lift lids and move pots about on the coals. A hook for lifting the lid on the cast iron pot is also essential. My Bedourie Oven came with a removable handle but it’s not well balanced so I prefer to use the gloves.
A trivet is also a great investment. This is a circle of mesh that has an edge or feet on it. Place it in the bottom of your pot when baking and your food won’t come into contact with the pot so shouldn’t burn or stick. Obviously a trivet is not much good if you’re making a stew!
Baking paper is also very handy. If I’m baking I’ll put down my trivet and then put a layer of baking paper down. A useful tip to stop the paper from blowing around is to scrunch it up into a ball first then flatten it out.
If I’m making a pie or something small that doesn’t need the whole pot, I put down a trivet and then place a smaller metal or silicone baking dish on that.
If I’m cooking a large piece of meat like a leg of lamb or a whole chicken, I like to put it into an oven bag. Don’t forget to make a hole in the top of the bag to allow the steam to escape.
Season the pot before use
The box will say that it’s been seasoned but probably not well enough. Do this at home before a trip. Heat up your oven. Place the pot (and lid separately) into the oven and heat to about 175 degrees. Take them out of the oven and rub the inside with vegetable oil using paper towel. Don’t use olive oil and it can go rancid quite quickly. Mop up any excess oil and wait till the pot is cool enough to touch before repeating the process. You need to do this at least ten times – a bit of effort now will pay long term dividends.
How to keep your pots in good condition
Never, ever use soapy water to wash the pot. I’m lazy, especially after a few glasses of wine, so I simply add a little water and let it sit overnight. If you’re one of those people who just has to clean up, bring the pot with a little water up to the boil, either on a stove or on the coals. When it cools down a little, rub the pot with paper towel. This should loosen any leftover bits and pieces. Drain the water away and wipe the pot with paper towel. Now bring the pot up to high heat and repeat the seasoning process mentioned above. You’ll be pleased to know you only need to do it once! Once cool, wipe away any excess oil and store your pot. Incidentally, I never do anything to the outside of my pots.
What to cook?
Keep an eye on this blog as some recipes will follow!