Bragging Rights - Camp Oven Cooking

Last Monday evening I happened to watch the episode of My Kitchen Rules where Ben from NSW cooked a Saltbush Lamb Shoulder in a camp oven and all but destroyed it.
Well, I got hooked and just couldn't wait for the weekend to arrive to see if I could do better and printed down the recipe from the MKR Web site.

Saltbush Lamb

The recipe gives a poor instruction in camp oven cooking and no wonder Ben crashed and burned.

Well folks, I have to say while writing this with a belly full of delicious roasted lamb, Fondant Potato, Roasted Sweet Potato and steamed Asparagus and Green Bean parcels that the recipe itself is OK but the instructions re camp oven cooking would turn anybody off cooking in this way for life.

Unfortunately for Ben, the approach in digging a pit and setting alight to a pile of wood over a four hour period or so with the result that at times the fire was roaring and other times hardly working at all is not what camp oven cooking should be. When using coals for cooking you need plenty of them, a long handled shovel and a good quality camp oven.
Above all, you need to experiment and learn from your experiences.

I recommend people try this excellent recipe but use the camp oven in the following manner.

Take a quantity of Heatbeads® equal to twice the diameter of your camp oven for the top and four to six less for the bottom.
In my case for the 12” Hillbilly, I placed 24 heatbeads® on top and 8 heatbeads® underneath, then removed two heatbeads from the bottom as the stock inside the oven was bubbling a bit too much.
I find I have more control over the heat using heatbeads®, unless I am at camp with a good sized campfire and plenty of coals to shovel around. You can adjust the heat to suit adding or removing heatbeads. I place my oven on a pot stand sitting in a cast iron frypan which allows plenty of air circulation underneath to ensure the heatbeads are not smothered. The meat is also placed on a trivet to keep it off the bottom of the oven.

There is a misconception that most of the heat should be on the bottom of the camp oven but all this will achieve is to burn the bottom of the oven, destroying anything inside. Most of the heat should be applied to the top when roasting or baking and the Hillbilly has a great shaped lid to contain the coals or heatbeads®.

After an hour or so, add the sweet potatoes to the vegetable ring to roast them along with the meat which is also turned at this stage.

One other problem with the MKR recipe is the use of multiple cooking processes.
The camp oven for the meat, boiling the potatoes in a saucepan, roasting the sweet potato in a household oven. (what’s wrong with the oven you already have hot).
Again, the flexibility of the Hillbilly camp oven with its vegetable ring accessory makes this process simple. Just dump the sweet potatoes in half way through the meat cooking process.
When out in the bush, I wouldn’t bother cooking the potatoes separately. They would go in the veggie ring with the sweet potato.

Overall, an enjoyable time making a good recipe even better by using the camp oven in a controlled manner.

I’m just finishing the bottle of red I used to keep me company during the cooking process and all is good with the world:-))



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Reply By: Gramps - Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 19:42

Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 19:42
Gees Bill, I've just finished dinner and you've got me hungry again LOL

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 19:45

Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 19:45
Good one Bill, nothing better than a campfire roast. Not sure that when really outback it will be possible to have fresh asparagus though! And not too sure either about "good quality camp oven"? Any solid cast iron pot that is properly seasoned and has a good lid will do the job very nicely - the trick is in how to use it I think. Lighting the fire well in advance of cooking to ensure a good supply of coals - and the long handled shovel seems to be the key.


J and V
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Reply By: Member - Geoff H (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 20:09

Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 20:09
Nice work Bill.

The Camp Oven Cooking forum has instructions on how many beads to use for different temps.

I use 14 on top and 9 on the bottom for a 180 degree oven. A few more for Pizza.

Just be careful which brands you use, I found the Bunning ones too small and prefer Red Heads.

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Follow Up By: Alan S (WA) - Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 21:38

Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 21:38
where is the Camp Oven forum?

I have used a Camp Oven with coals lots of times, but only just got a Hill Billy with the gas conversion. So iam interested in playing with the heat beads.

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Follow Up By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 21:41

Sunday, Feb 21, 2010 at 21:41

Have a look here ;)

Cheers Kev
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Follow Up By: Alan S (WA) - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 11:45

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 11:45

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Reply By: Member - Russnic [NZ] - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 12:45

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 12:45
We have cooked some great feeds from stews, roasts, bread, plum duff to Christmas cake using the coals from an open fire in a well seasned camp oven, only failures happend when you did not keep an eye on things.
On my second trip out there, bought a Cobb, it was OK but not quite the same.
On my travels through that town I got a Bedourie 12" Camp Oven that fits in the Cobb, packs away in the bag, great.
Problem is to get a good roast, bake etc it is difficult to keep enough heat on the flat lid of the Bedourie.
Any body got some suggestions?.
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 19:38

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 19:38
My only suggestion is to replace your Bedourie with a Hillbilly.

Nothing wrong with the Cobb though. I use ours regularly when just the two of us and we are having a simple roast. 7 heatbeads instead of 24 or so.

When I'm cooking for the mob (usually 6 of us) I use both the Cobb Cooker and the Hillbilly.



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Reply By: Member - Brian H (QLD) - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 13:06

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 13:06
Watched the same show Bill, I feel his issue was from the start when he started the fire and left to go shopping with wife knowing heavy looking rain clouds were above. Only to return and fire was out from the rain, this of course meant he had to start again with a lot of time wasted and little time to get good coals and when he put the oven on he must of put more timber on cause when he next checked the oven there was fire all around it and the meat was burnt.

Ben seemed to enjoy himself that night not sure his wife / girlfriend could say the same.

Anyway the recipe sounded good and now that you have put this up I will have to get my oven out and see what I can burn (cook). I also have the hillbilly and have YET to be able to get anything to cook in it.

I may just try the heat beads instead of the gas ring I got with it and see if that works.


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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 19:28

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 19:28

I also have a gas ring for my Hillbilly Bush King oven, but don't use it that often.

Similar principal though. For roasts and baking, place the gas ring on top.
Will cook a roast in a couple of hours.

I only use the gas ring when you can't use heatbeads.
If I'm camping and have a good camp fire going for some time, I will temd to use coals instead.


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