Become a camp oven masterchef!

SOme spicy apricot shanks, cooked over a camp oven

One of the best investments a serious camper will make is to buy a quality camp oven. And of course, learn how to use it!

The art of camp oven cooking is now as simple as cooking a barbecue, and the meals you can make in a camp oven are limited only by your imagination.

Jo Clews has been cooking for almost as long as she can remember. A country girl who’s lived and worked in various remote and regional areas of WA, Jo likes nothing more than cooking outdoors on the camp oven.

Jo has published a book of her own recipes called Australian Camp Oven Cooking and encourages everyone she meets to experiment with their own cooking so that their own camping meals are more than just a sausage in a bun!

“The first step to becoming a camp chef is to choose the right camp oven,” Jo said.

“Cast iron are the traditional style camp oven, and thee are fantastic for absorbing and storing heat. Of course they can be extremely heavy, and can break if you’re not careful.”

“A steel camp oven is a popular alternative, weighing a fraction of the cast iron ones and being more durable.”

“Whatever type you decide to buy, it really is worth spending the extra money and investing in good quality,” Jo said. “Think of your camp oven as an investment and something you can pass along to the your children and theirs!”

Jo said she uses both types of camp ovens for different cooking. The small cast iron is good for stews, soups, small roasts and casseroles over a bed of coals, gas burner or BBQ. The steel camp ovens are generally larger and are good for breads, cakes, muffins and tarts.

If baking a cake out or cooking a casserole in the bush has never occurred to you, maybe now is the time to get adventurous! Jo knows that no matter what you cook at home on the stove or oven can also be cooked in the camp oven outdoors. All you need is the right ingredients, the right camp oven, and the right recipe!

Jo Clews Spicy Apricot Lamb Shanks

Here’s a new take on a classic slow cooked finger licking dish that is sure to become a standard go-to recipe when out camping!

This recipe feeds two people, however can be doubled for extra people. Takes 1.5-2 hours to cook.

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 small can apricot nectar
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 small can apricot halves and their juice
  • ¼ teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, more or less depending on your spice tolerance
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

Heat oil in a small to medium cast iron camp oven. Brown shanks for about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook for a further five minutes. Add the spice, apricots and apricot nectar.

Bring to the boil on the stove top, then transfer to the fireplace, sit oven on sturdy wire rack over 4-5 coals, heat beads or a small amount of fire coals with the same amount on the lid, and simmer over moderate heat for about 1.5 hours.

Replace coals regularly to maintain an even cooking temperature, remove lid from oven and cook for a further 30-40 minutes uncovered to reduce liquid.

Shank meat should be tender, juicy and falling off the bone. Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies. Hearty comfort food out in the bush!

For more inpiration and yummy reciopies visit

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