Outdoor Cooking: How to do it properly
Rustle up delicious meals under the sky or stars, with these outdoor cooking devices for fabulous al fresco meals.
Just think of all those culinary treats you love to eat, but dare not cook in the caravan, when your bed's just three feet from your kitchen!
Bacon, mackerel and slow-cooked curry may be delicious, but, along with other strong-smelling ingredients, they're usually off limits in the confined space of a caravan.
The solution – cook outdoors. Time to investigate what's on the market for the al fresco caravan cook.
Caravan chef, Monica Rivron, reveals her passion for al fresco cooking
I spend a large part of each day cooking in my north London kitchen for my family of five, and I am happy to do so. When I go on holiday in our caravan I love nothing more than going to a food market, choosing some delicious, fresh, local produce and cooking al fresco.
When we are in the caravan I generally choose to cook outside, unless it is tipping down. I love my Bailey's kitchen, but there is something special about cooking under the sky and stars.
I use two Cadac '2-Cook Stoves', which give me four gas rings with pot stands, and I also have two cast-iron, ribbed skillets. These reduce the need for pots and pans, and are lovely to cook with.
I tend to cook dishes that are fairly quick to make, so I do a lot of skewered meats, for which the ribbed hotplates are perfect; I can fit six skewers of mouthwatering kebabs on each hotplate.
Another Rivron family favourite is a piece of fish in flavoured butter, for which I again use the ribbed hotplate, along with the pot stand to boil delicious new potatoes – add a few sprigs of fresh mint to the boiling water for an even fresher flavour.
To clean the plates I soak them in a bucket of warm water and then my husband, Rowland, takes them to the caravan site's washing-up area and runs them under the tap with a soft brush.
Breakfast is fun when we're on holiday
Some family members are pancake eaters, while others want eggs on toast. I have a great routine for this; I make the pancake mix in the caravan, then plug in the toaster, get the coffee going on one Cadac hob, a milk pan on another, pancakes on the third and eggs on the fourth!
We have had our Cadacs for over 10 years, and they are as good as new. I love them!
Price from £90
Fancy barbecuing on the spur of the moment?
Go for a disposable BBQ. This one cost £2 from Asda. While there are certainly many more sophisticated barbies available, these little, cheap, fuss-free trays are perfect for quick meals of burgers and sausages.
A barbecue of this size can cook burgers and sausages for two people easily, and they're perfect for the beach. On site, you may need to raise these disposable barbecues off the ground (on a frame or a couple of bricks), as the heat will kill the grass below. Some sites ban them for this reason.
Cazal Fire Pit
The Cazal Fire Pit from Outwell is a lightweight, affordable, multi-use addition to caravan cooking capabilities. Not only is it a portable barbecue with enough of a cooking surface to feed the whole family but, being a fire pit, it can be used with a multitude of fuels to suit your meal of choice.
Use it with charcoal and apple wood smoking chips to cook the perfect pork loin; briquettes to chargrill lamb kebabs; or use good ol'-fashioned firewood to spend a family evening together around the fire toasting marshmallows.
The choice is yours.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2016, this enamel coated, ultra-portable, stone-baked pizza oven features three optional cooking sets: the pizza set, the 'hot rock' cooking set and a BBQ & breakfast set, so it doesn't just bake pizzas!
Weighing in at 12kg, it isn't a lightweight piece of kit due to its 2mm-thick steel body. But it is sturdy and high quality. It takes eight minutes to reach optimal cooking temperature and bakes pizza in four minutes, so it's quick enough for even the most impatient of chefs and diners!
An optional hardwood stand costs £49.99. With five colours and three cooking sets to choose from, the Firepod is a must for gourmet griddlers everywhere.
Note: All Firepods include a pair of heat-resistant gloves, a cover for the 'pod and a gas pipe and regulator.
Price £395 plus cooking set
Cadac Carri Chef 2 BBQ
Cadac has cemented its position as a front runner in barbecues and grills in the outdoor leisure arena due to its products' high quality, ease of use and cooking versatility.
The company manufactures many models, but we chose the Carri Chef 2 gas barbecue as we think it ticks all the boxes for the barbecuing caravanner.
The Lotus Grill
The Lotus Grill marries the good old-fashioned barbecue with a touch of modern technology to bring a more efficient method of charcoal cookery.
The cooking method is simple: fill the fire basket with charcoal (Lotus recommends lump wood, not briquettes), apply an ignition gel to the base plate, place the fire basket on top and then fit the griddle on top of that. You are ready to cook in four minutes.
What sets this grill apart is its built-in 'Turbo Fan'. This forces air through the fire basket to increase the burn efficiency and therefore heat. The fan control dial acts as a temperature controller; more air means more heat. A fire basket full of charcoal gives an hour's worth of cooking.
Thanks to its double skin and interior stainless-steel bowl (which acts as a reflector), no heat radiates to the exterior skin. This means the grill stays completely cool so can be placed on a table or grass and won't leave burn marks below.
At 3.5kg the grill is lightweight and portable. It comes in six colours and three sizes, complete with its own carry bag. Various accessories convert it to an oven, a fondue set, pizza oven and more.
Kampa Fry Up XL Electric Griddle
This electric answer to your griddle needs has been extensively tested by the Chapman clan, both at home and on caravan holidays, mostly in Cornwall. It features a large 47cm x 27cm cooking surface, a temperature control dial, cool-touch handles and a removable drip tray.
Everything that's needed for a family fry up and more! We found this bit of kit is perfect for cooking an indulgent cooked breakfast in the morning. It will easily handle six rashers of bacon and four eggs simultaneously.
Also, the drip tray and the non-stick surface make it easy to clean afterwards. The only negative we have come across is its effect on our waistlines!