It’s been a while since we reviewed a cool gadget so we decided to feature an old but trusty piece of gear – the Hillbilly BushKing Camp Oven. We first discovered the BushKing while travelling around the center of Australia – Alice Springs – back in 2002. We came across a stall at a market that was giving demonstrations on a novel camp oven and Papa Bear, who loves cooking / eating, innovative stoves and anything manly that can be used in the bush, was enthralled with the BushKing. After a few moments considering how he could get this thing home (we had flown to the Alice) Papa Bear was walking out of the market with the complete $250 cooking system. [Note: the flight home was somewhat comical. Remember, it was 2002, one year after 9/11 when airport security was at its height, and Papa Bear boarded carrying the BushKing as a carry-on. There was a lot explaining to do…]
The BushKing is a highly versatile fireside companion, serving as a camp oven, fry pan and saucepan. It’s made out of spun blue steel, making it much tougher, harder wearing and easier to clean than cast iron alternatives.
Now is this a good cooking system to take on a backpacking trip? Not unless you have a pack mule or a Sherpa to hump this cook set along – it’s bulky and heavy. But for car camping, the BushKing is a thing of beauty.
The culinary possibilities are endless. This outdoor cooker has produced steaming curries, spicy chilis, roast dinners (with veggies and gravy), baked nachos, soufflés, Shepard’s Pie, bacon and eggs, hearty soups, and a variety of bread, scones, damper, bannock and biscuits. The BushKing – which is basically a Dutch Oven – is built to use over a fire, with charcoal or the associated propane burner system. We almost always use the propane burner as the heat can be better controlled.
The system sets up easily. You can heat from the bottom or flip the burner on to the top lid to turn it into an oven. Once you’re done, just rinse it out, apply a quick coating of olive oil to prevent the steel from rusting, and pack it back into the bag. The BushKing is fantastic and almost everything turns out great, particularly when you’re outdoors and drinking lots of booze…
In honor of our current location (Alabama), we whipped up a batch of southern cheese biscuits for lunch. They were delicious, although according to Mama Bear, would have been good with grits and gravy.
Now the bad news. For those of you convinced that the BushKing is a great camp oven and want to go straight out and buy one, it’ll be a bit tricky. They’re still only made in Australia and now retail for $395. Shipping, we’re guessing, would be fairly pricey. But if you’re ever Down Under for a visit, you can always pick one up and (like some other nutcase) talk your way through security and jam it into the overhead compartment. Just for the biscuits alone, it’s worth it! For more information, check out http://www.campingwithhillbilly.com.