Cooking meals at your campsite is one of the joys of RVing. It`s a space where you break away from the norm and try great meals. While it`s not always convenient to bring along your favorite grill with all the bells and whistles, we reviewed, tested and cooked with three ideal products that are easy on space and can deliver great results.
Seth McGuinn`s CanCooker
The CanCooker follows the same premise of the conventional slow cooker and is similar to a convection oven as it cooks food evenly. What’s interesting is it uses pressured steam to cook meals in an efficient manner simply over a stove top, an open fire, or a gas grill. Available in three models, we chose the Original CanCooker to prepare two meals from the supplied recipe book, which is available separately.
Constructed of light weight 1060 FDA-grade aluminum • Stainless latches/handles • Silicon lid with holes to prevent pressure build up • A four-gallon capacity • A stainless steel bottom rack and carrying bag
What we liked about the CanCooker is you can prepare meals for a lot of people in less than an hour with little effort. The recipes were also easy to monitor as steam exiting the lid holes indicates the progress of the food cooking. The lid can also be opened during the cooking time without any issues. We prepared two meals – Beef Bourguignon and Italian Chicken – on a BBQ gas grill set on low-to-medium heat. While the meals were evenly cooked, we suggest varying the cooking times to your liking. Nonetheless, both recipes were ready to serve immediately.
Suggestions From Our Trial:
In the RV world space in your rig is always an issue. At 14 inches in height it maybe a little cumbersome to stow in smaller RVs – especially if you don’t plan on using it a lot. But if you`re tailgating or are cooking at a family gathering, it may be worthwhile to bring along. However, two other, more compact units are available including the CanCooker Jr. and the new CanCooker Companion. We also suggest having oven mitts on hand to move the unit immediately after cooking as the handles are hot. Cleaning was also easy and took no more effort than cleaning a conventional large boiling pot. Additionally, perhaps store the bottom rack elsewhere than in the CanCooker. The rattling during movement can be a little noisy while in transit. Available at Amazon.com
Volcano 3 Collapsible Grill
Some features that attracted our attention to the Volcano 3 were its portability and versatility for RVing. This is a three-in-one grill, which means it can use propane, wood or charcoal to barbecue. It also means that it can be used when any one of these heat sources are in limited supply (or in the event of an emergency when a heat source to stay warm is limited – scroll down for more details).
The Volcano extends to 11 inches in height and collapses down to five inches. At 25 pounds, it’s a little heavy, but it is sturdy, which prevents it from falling over when accidently bumped.
A 500 denier nylon case with a pocket for small supplies • A 19,500 BTU propane burner • Heat deflector plate • Propane hose unit • Several air vents • Manual adjustable air vent • Low heat transfer
Assembly was easy. With a quick tug of the stainless steel handle the two-tiered Volcano extracts vertically and locks into place. In gas mode, the featured propane connection screws into the burner and small or large propane tanks can be used.
After the flame was lit, we inserted the deflector plate, then the grill, and we were ready to cook. As per the instructions, we used a low blue flame by adjusting the flame regulator on the propane hose. We`re glad we did. This grill – with the diffuser plate – does get hot when the flame is stronger or during grilling. In open wood burning mode, it can substitute a traditional campfire. While we passed on this method, we did use charcoal. We inserted the bottom grate, placed the briquettes, lit the coals, then placed the main grill on top. In both situations, the heat was more than adequate and each mode met our needs.
Suggestions From Our Trial:
In charcoal or gas mode, we suggest opting for the available lid. It covers the entire unit to increase cooking times or prevent the flame from blowing out in windy conditions. While grilling, attention was required for even cooking results in both cases (we cooked sausages and vegetables), yet our meals were done to our liking without any issues.
The grilling surface is only 13 inches and became a little crowded, but it is a small portable BBQ and the amount of heat it provides makes up for it. What’s interesting, however, is the diameter of the opening can also accommodate the company’s available griddle/skillet, and Dutch oven. It can also accommodate a Wok, and can be used to bake or smoke meats and other ingredients, which add other interesting elements to the Volcano. Available at Amazon.com
Folding Picnic Time X-Grill
There are many portable grills on the market for RVers. What caught our attention with the Folding Picnic Time X-Grill is its portability, ease use and cool design. It folds flat and is concealed inside its carrying bag. Once extracted, a compact portable charcoal BBQ unfolds.
Chrome-plated, tri-fold electroplated iron grill measuring 18.5 x 11 inches • A charcoal grate • A 600D polyester bag
Set up was easy and once in BBQ mode, the instructions for assembly probably won’t be needed again. When the coals are ready – with the help of the featured vents – the unit falls into place in the barbecuing world. Cooking standard barbecue fare such as burgers and sausages proved easy and we grilled our food to our liking. While the grill does get hot for its size and amount of charcoal, it was also ideal for vegetable kabobs as the heat wasn’t overly intense.
Suggestions From Our Trial:
We liked this unit because of its portability for barbecuing on the go and would be ideal for teardrop units, tent campers, or smaller trailers. It can easily fit in the back seat of a tow vehicle or in a trunk of a car amongst other gear.
As charcoal for some can be difficult to maintain, the tri-fold grate was helpful to add more (or adjust) charcoal. However, a lid would help to heat the coals faster and increase cooking time. Additionally, raised ledges around the cooking surface would help prevent food from falling off of the sides (even though it didn`t happen during our trial).
We used it at a campground with any problems. We also took it a cottage and cooked just on a dock. In every case, it was easy to to transport and remained sturdy with no movement during grilling. Available at Amazon.com