TESTED: THE COBB COOKER

COOK A CHOOK IN LESS THAN TWO HOURS, WITHOUT NEED­ING A CAMP­FIRE!

4 x 4 Australia - - Front Page -

THIS PROD­UCT, the name of which is so evoca­tive of Aus­tralia’s past, is ac­tu­ally from Africa. The back­ground is quite in­ter­est­ing: In the mid-1990s, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Ken Hall de­signed a cooker so that vil­lagers could use dried corn cobs for fuel. Wood sup­plies were scarce, but there was an abun­dance of corn cobs in the vil­lage as maize was the sta­ple diet.

The cook­ers evolved into the sim­ple but tech­no­log­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated, eco­log­i­cally friendly and at­trac­tive prod­uct of to­day. Time mag­a­zine recog­nised its sig­nif­i­cance by nam­ing it one of the 30 most im­por­tant in­ven­tions of 2001.

The Cobb is handy both at home and in the bush, and with an in­crease in camp­site re­stric­tions, and a lack of fire­wood at some camp­sites, camp­fires are not as com­mon as they used to be. This is likely to con­tinue and it makes the Cobb an ideal re­place­ment for gas bot­tles, stoves, camp ovens, fry­ing pans and so on.

The whole unit, in its strong carry bag, is 30cm in di­am­e­ter and a lit­tle over 30cm tall. Con­sid­er­ing fuel can be car­ried in­side the Cobb, it is an ef­fec­tive use of space in a ve­hi­cle. With the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of smaller cars, and the huge amount of out­door gear peo­ple typ­i­cally pack, the Cobb’s size is im­por­tant.

When it comes to do­ing what it’s de­signed to do, the Cobb has plenty of cook­ing ‘bang for your buck’. The Cobb can grill, fry, boil and even smoke food. It comes into its own as an oven, and it’s much eas­ier to use than the tra­di­tional camp oven.

It can also be used as a stove, while a fry­ing pan is avail­able as an ac­ces­sory and can be used in­stead of the stan­dard grill. Last but not least, with ap­pro­pri­ate care, it can be used as a heater sim­ply by re­mov­ing the lid and grill. Plus it’s good for the en­vi­ron­ment.

To get the Cobb cook­ing, three to four fire­lighters and the rec­om­mended num­ber of heat beads need to be placed into the fire-well, which is sur­rounded by a moat (of wa­ter).

Camp­fires are not as com­mon as they used to be. This makes the Cobb an ideal re­place­ment for gas bot­tles, stoves, camp ovens and pans

Light the fire­lighters and wait for the beads to ‘whiten’, and then at­tach the grill. Now you’re ready to add food. Don’t for­get to put wa­ter in the moat, and never put the lid on without there be­ing food on the grill.

We used four heat beads and when the fuel went white we put on the juicy leg of lamb, which cooked in the planned two hours.

The damper took 75 min­utes, which was 15 min­utes longer than ex­pected. But be sure to check af­ter 40 min­utes, as a damper of­ten needs to be turned.

There are two book­lets that come with the cooker with in­struc­tions, hints and recipes. They are sim­ple in­struc­tions, but it’s very im­por­tant to read them.

Pota­toes, pump­kins and car­rots can be cooked on the plate di­rectly, as can greens in a foil packet. Veg­eta­bles can also be cooked in the moat. We pre­fer to cook the hard veg­eta­bles on the plate and the greens sep­a­rately, but this is a per­sonal choice.

The cook­ers are avail­able from a wide va­ri­ety of camp­ing and out­door stores, while Snowys Out­doors in Ade­laide of­ten has demon­stra­tions.

There is a gim­bal-mount at­tach­ment avail­able for boats, but this was not avail­able lo­cally or on the in­ter­net at the time of writ­ing.

The RRP is about $220-230, which is good con­sid­er­ing ours was $199 nearly 10 years ago.

Add a casse­role dish, fry­ing pan and bil­ly­can – and per­haps a gas ring – and you could have all the cook­ing es­sen­tials needed to travel around Aus­tralia.

Maybe we will try that on our next trip in­stead of the mound of cook­ing gear, in­clud­ing five camp ovens, we usu­ally carry.

RATED

Cook­ing up the meatand-three-veg without a camp­fire! AVAIL­ABLE FROM: www.cob­baus­tralia.com.au RRP: $220-$230 WE SAY: Great all-rounder; easy to use; cooks a de­cent meal in quick time!

A Sun­day roast can be whipped up in less than two hours! Once the fire­lighters are ablaze, it’s time to at­tach the grill. Ba­con and eggs for brekky, and damper for morn­ing tea.

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