Monday, November 9, 2009

Dutch Oven Baked Ziti (Penne)

A few weeks ago, as we were preparing for the dutch oven gathering, Brendon and I began searching for dishes to cook.  He and I had been watching America's Test Kitchen, and they had a recipe for a baked ziti pasta dish that you made in one skillet. 

Welllllll, then, we can do it in a dutch oven, right?  That was Brendon's choice. So, we figured out how to turn it into a dutch oven recipe of the highest caliber!

If you've watched the video in yesterday's entry, you saw Brendon working on it, and you saw the results. 

We made it again yesterday, but we did it in the regular oven, indoors.  So, this time, I'm going to give you a combination of the two recipes.  The changes we did for the indoor version, with the instructions for doing it as a dutch oven recipe.  The description is sort of a combination of what Brendon did both days.  I served primarily in an advisory role.  Really.

Dutch Oven Baked Ziti

12" dutch oven

15-20 coals below, then
8-10 coals below, and 18-22 above

  • 1 Tsp oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper  (We actually went more toward the 1 tsp...)
  • 1 lb ground meat (we used turkey)

  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb ziti pasta (we actually cheated and used penne)
  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 pint carton cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • liberal doses of basil, oregano, parsley
  • liberal dose of black pepper
  • 1 medium package of shredded mozarella

  • Feta, crumbled, for serving

First of all, Brendon got some coals going, and then chopped up the garlic and the onion.  While that was happening, the oil was getting hot in the dutch oven.  When he dropped in the onions and garlic, we could hear the sizzle, and smell the aroma!  The red peppers went in, too.  Those got sauteed.  When done, we added the meat to brown.

Once the meat had browned, Brendon opened up the can of tomatoes, and poured them in (you can see him doing that at the start of the video).  He added the other ingredients.  It looks like it will be really runny with all that water, but that and the tomato juice cooks the pasta.  And honestly, we wanted to be authentic and use ziti pasta, but the penne was just sitting there.  And I'll always pick up a penne...

Ok, sorry about that...

He closed the lid, and still using bottom heat, cooked the pasta for about 20 minutes, until it was "al dente".  It was yummy to taste test, too.  Just like it said on the show, cooking the pasta in the sauce does two things:  One, it infuses the pasta with the tomato and onion/garlic flavors, and Two, the starch from the pasta thickens the sauce just a little.  It's got this symbiotic thing goin' on...

Once the pasta was cooked, we pulled it off the coals.  Brendon added the ingredients of the third set, and stirred it, and then smothered it in mozarella.  At that point, we put it back on a ring of coals.  It wasn't that cold out, so we kept the bottom coals pretty few.  Remember that the ingredients are already cooked.  We want the cream to come up to temperature, and the herbs to spread the flavor, but mostly we want the mozarella to melt and brown.  So, that's why we went so heavy on top coals.

That baked for about another 20 minutes or so, just to get a good bronze goin' on the cheese.  Then he pulled it off, let it cool a bit, and served it with crumbled feta.  Yum, yum, yum...

...And I've gotta say, I'm proud of the little man for trying such a challenging dutch oven recipe and pulling it off so well. 

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


  1. Cooking with a Dutch Oven (regardless of the dish) - especially while camping outdoors is a yummy experience. We had some great stew this past weekend. The meat literally fell apart before you could chew it. Check out the Dutch Ovens at



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