If you’d asked me this question a month ago, I would’ve said cook a roast, make a big dish of prawn pasta, whip up some ceviche — all dishes that can be prepared in a small space. But, with the festive season just past and the holiday season just getting started, what about a proper big feast?
I currently live in a one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend, in Melbourne’s beloved inner-north suburb of Fitzroy. Our living space and kitchen is open plan and pretty spacious, but the appliances are limited.
When planning our Christmas lunch — our first year of hosting, we’ve truly graduated to adulthood — what I really wanted was a barbecue or outdoor grill. Because it is really an Australian Christmas without some BBQ skewers? Although we do have a balcony, it’s not big enough for a barbecue, and also wouldn’t be super safe, given its limited airflow.
So I went on a hunt. And that’s when I found the Roccbox. It all started with a Matty Matheson video.
I have a habit of watching Matty Matheson videos when I’m feeling a bit down because he’s entertaining, his food always makes me hungry and super inspired to try out new things in the kitchen.
A few weeks before Christmas, I sat down and watched a video of him making Vietnamese Clams with Peanuts, in what looked like a mini outdoor oven.
The oven is called a Roccbox and it’s made by UK company Gozney, whose speciality lies specifically in pizza ovens. They’re pretty epic. They make one for your countertop, two for outside and one that is restaurant-grade.
Immediately my mind started racing. Growing up in an Italian family, I know that pizza isn’t the only thing you can cook in a pizza oven, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can make steaks, roast meats, vegetables, seafood… and with a small and compact oven like the Roccbox, we’d be able to do all this from our apartment balcony!
Having an outdoor kitchen space is life-changing, and you don’t need that big of a space to do it. If you have an appliance that doesn’t produce too much smoke and an area that is fully aerated, then you can make the magic happen.
I can say with confidence, that we made that Vietnamese Vongele courtesy of Matty Matheson to perfection. Instead of roasting them in a conventional oven (which works too, but you can’t do as much as the flavour isn’t as good) you just stick them into your pizza oven — we’ve got the Roccbox from Gozney but there are other brands too — and they come out pretty bloody delicious.
We also made heaps of different pizza — it would be rude not to — which was easy to prepare, quick to cook and produced more food than I could’ve ever dreamt was possible from two people out of a small apartment.
Roccbox is the first mini pizza oven to get to 500 degrees, which means you can literally cook an entire pizza in 60 seconds. It sounds too dreamy to be true, right? The pizza oven that my dad built and sits proudly in the backyard of our family home can cook pizza in under a minute, but it takes hours and hours to heat up. The Roccbox is powered by gas, which means it only takes minutes to heat up and seconds to cook.
If you were to do a roast, or cook meats and veggies in the Roccbox — or any other mini outdoor oven — obviously, it would take a little longer. Our vongole took about five minutes to cook, and steaks would probably take a few minutes and a few flips (like you would cook a steak on the barbecue) but with that added delicious smokey flavour that comes from cooking in a pizza oven.
So I guess my overall advice is if you’re wanting to cook a feast out of your apartment (and you’re not doing a potluck), find yourself a nifty outdoor appliance to help you out. It doesn’t have to be the Roccbox or a mini pizza oven, you could get yourself a hibachi grill or a mini weber q or hot plate, but just something that allows you to cook high volume foods at a high temp.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t knock out an impressive feast from a one-bedroom apartment. We fed a family of five plus multiple friends and visitors in the days that followed, all thanks to a mini pizza oven.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.