Cobb Oven Camping Stove
Most people when camping take some form of gas fired stove with them. These stoves are great, and very useful, but there is another, superb option.
During our camping trip this year, we discovered the Cobb Oven, a stainless steel, charcoal fired oven that grills, roasts, BBQs, bakes, fries and smokes. It also provides HEAT, so that on the coldest of days you can stay warm and snug.
This great little oven doesn't just have to be limited to your annual camping trip, but can be used on the beach, on picnics, for BBQs, on boats, in caravans and on the terrace, as its stainless steel outer gets warm but does not burn.
The Cobb oven sits around 33cm tall ( a little over 1 foot) and almost the same in diameter, but stows away slightly smaller when the lid is inverted. The entire thing weighs 3.8Kg (around 8 1/2lbs). It has several distinct parts with differing uses:
The Dome: The stainless steel hood that keeps all the heat in. When cooking, it remains warm to the touch, but does not burn.
The Grill: A ceramic coated grill for roasting, BBQs, baking and smoking food. Fat from the grill drains away into the moat.
The Moat: This will hold 250ml of liquid, either water, wine or beer. You can cook vegetables here or add liquid with herbs and spices to flavour meat.
Fire Basket: Does exactly as the name suggests; this holds the charcoal briquettes or beads when in the fire chamber. It may also be used as a pot stand for cooking.
Bowl: The bowl pops out for easy cleaning.
Fire Chamber: This holds the fire basket.
Cobb Oven - Fuel and Lighting
The Cobb oven uses charcoal; official Cobb sites recommend either charcoal briquettes, beads, or the paper wrapped single charcoal block. It doesn't matter too much which fuel you choose, and I know plenty of people who simply use what they'd buy for their BBQ at home. However, it's worth bearing in mind that beads and briquettes require firelighters to get them started, whereas the paper wrapped block does not; you simply light the paper surrounding it, which makes it ideal to take on camping trips. In addition, once burnt out, the block remains in one piece to make disposal easy.
The different fuels burn for differing lengths of time. A handful of charcoal beads will cook for around three hours and will provide heat for four, whereas the block will burn for 21/2 hours.
The oven takes around 15-20 minutes to light and should always be lit outdoors, even if the oven is moved inside whilst cooking. The exterior of the oven stays cool enough for table-top use, as it was originally designed for use on board boats.
Alongside the obligatory BBQ and full-english cooked breakfast, roast lamb (with all the trimmings), foccacia bread and smoked feshly caught fish are some of the delights that are particularly good cooked in the Cobb.
Advantages of the Cobb Oven
Using the Cobb oven transforms camping eating from the mundane need to fuel up into a gourmet pleasure. Imagine fresh fish gently smoked over a handful of damp applewood chips.
Warmth: A handful of charcoal beads provides 4 hours of HEAT. Camping on cold wet days need no longer be a misery (I know someone who after a particularly damp night dried their sweater in the Cobb oven - I wouldn't recommend this, though, as I'm not sure their sweater was quite the same ever again, but they were warm and dry at least!).
Size: The Cobb oven isn't for backpackers, but it's fantastic if you want a little luxury when you're base camping. It goes really well with our Yukon River 4 tent (we don't do basic) - camping heaven!
Cost: Kiss goodbye to around £100, but it's so well worth it. You could spend more if you want to add accessories such as griddles and swanky carrying bags - the Cobb Oven world is your oyster.
Suppliers: There aren't that many, but Amazon.co.uk do them - search around.