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Guns & Game

Togar Smoke Oven
by Bernadette Jackson

When Graham Joshua of Togar Ovens sent me a few photos of the Togar Oven and some of the food that had been cooked in it, I was immediately impressed by the idea of a simple system for smoking food. I had previously seen and heard of elaborate food smoking set ups that are used in the USA and even though we really enjoy smoked meat, it always seemed to difficult an exercise to do it ourselves.

Smoking meat is not really a widespread practice in Australia, and while we are exposed to commercially smoked bacon, ham and delicatessen meats (many of which have an artificial smoke flavour); most of us haven’t been acquainted with the delicate and smooth taste of home-smoked pork loins, chicken, fish etc.

The Togar Smoke Oven consists of a stainless steel oven in which sits two wire racks; a stainless steel windshield/base, and a dish for methylated spirits. The lid and bottom of the oven are specially shaped with two ridges in the bottom that hold the wire rack at required height. The oven fits snugly into the base/windshield which has ventilation holes, and it holds the oven at the correct height above the heat source. About 150 ml. of methylated spirits (more or less, depending on cooking time) is poured into the shallow steel dish and this is lit to provide the heat for the smoking process.

The oven can also be placed over hot coals, still using the base, or it can be used on a stove top, without the base/windshield. I tried all three heat sources, and found the methylated spirits was by far the easiest method. It is extremely convenient, you don’t need a fire going, the metho burns for just the right length of time needed to cook the contents of the oven, and it is very safe, because the heat source is completely contained underneath the oven. Also available is a 120mm. high extension kit. This apparently allows for whole chickens or larger cuts of meat to be smoked.

The Togar Smoke Oven comes with an instruction manual which also includes a selection of recipes to try. The oven works by hot smoking, which actually cooks the food at the same time as giving a smoky flavour. Supplied with the oven is a bag of Togar Oven Smoke dust – special pure sawdust blended from selected timbers. Apparently any suitable sawdust can be used in the Togar Oven, but care should be taken that the sawdust is free from contaminants, such as glues or wood preservatives. Two tablespoons of sawdust is all that is needed.

Over the last couple of months I’ve given the Togar Oven a fair workout. The first thing I tried was four plain sausages, pricked al over with a knife, placed on the top rack of the oven, two tablespoons of sawdust in the bottom, and left to cook for about 20 minutes. The sausages were perfect with a delicious smoked flavour.
I have tried smoking pork ribs, rissoles, steaks, chops, chicken pieces, different types of sausages and venison. All came out cooked with the desired smokey flavour. By experimenting you’ll be able to work out the degree of smoke flavour you desire.

One of the most delicious experiments using the Togar Oven was with venison. I sliced the venison when it was still partly frozen so the slices were as thin as possible. Then I seasoned them with “McCormick Gourmet Grill & BBQ – spicy Spanish with paprika” (this has a real bite and a terrific flavour), and arranged the slices on a piece of baking paper (not greaseproof) on the top rack of the oven. Two tablespoons of smokedust in the bottom of the oven, allow to cook for about 20 minutes, and out came smoked “jerky style” venison.

Because the slices were so thin, they dried out in the smoke oven and were quite firm like jerky with a real distinctive smoke flavour. I’d have to say it is one of the most delicious ways of cooking venison that I have ever tried. Needless to say I had to cook quite a few batches and none lasted long. This process works equally well with thin slices of beef and is just as delicious. Another big winner with the Togar oven was smoked hamburger patties.

A versatile piece of equipment, the Togar Oven could be quite easily used as a normal camp oven. In fact the racks inside the Togar Smoke Oven mean that a roast leg or damper, for example, wouldn’t be on the bottom of the oven and less likely to burn on the underside.

Being made of stainless steel, the Togar Smoke Oven is also a lot lighter and much less fragile than a conventional cast iron camp oven, and much easier to clean.

The Togar Smoke Oven is also ideal for steaming. Instead of putting smokedust in the bottom add a cup or two of water. I took a large Barramundi fillet, cut it in half, squirted some lime juice, added a sprinkle of chilli flakes and some thin sliced onion, placed fillets into the oven to steam and 20 minutes later they were done to perfection.

The Togar Smoke Oven is very easy to use and offers a method of smoking that is uncomplicated and not time consuming. The options are endless but you need to experiment with different recipes to get the best results. It could be interesting to try smoking turkey pieces or ham for Christmas.

Togar Smoke Ovens are hand made in Queensland and are available by mail order.  Click Here to order now.