Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 28: Baked Ziti

Today's post was supposed to be dutch oven biscuits. However, it was not to be. I mixed up the dough, cut out the biscuits and got ready to bake. I set up the coals with 7 on the bottom and 16 on the top and waited. After about 10 minutes I went to check them, and the coals had gone out. I was MAD! All my anxiety over cooking anything bread like, and the coals go out. I don't know what happened, I did everything exactly the same as always, there was no wind, and it was almost 40 degrees outside. I am not liking Kingsford charcoal right now. So I went online to do some charcoal research. Apparently, Kingsford has changed their formula and it doesn't work as well. According to Kingsford, it burns hotter and longer--I beg to differ. I was mad enough that I ran over to my local Walmart and picked up a bag of Sam's choice charcoal since I am giving Kingsford the silent treatment. Well, guess what? The Sam's choice started just as well, and burned just as long, but it did burn hotter. I didn't have the heat problems that I have had in the past. So today, I am making the 30 mile trek to Home Depot and I am going to experiment with every brand of charcoal they carry. My online research tells me that there are 2 brands that are the ones to try--Royal Oak and Wicked Good. I found Royal Oak lump coals at Walmart, but I am not ready to try those yet so I will try to find their briquettes, and I'm not sure Wicked Good is even available in Utah. I will let you know how my experiments turn out.
On to a happier subject--the recipe. This is just your standard baked ziti recipe. It calls for layering the ingredients, but in the interest of ease and since the result isn't that different, I mixed everything together in my DO and sprinkled the cheese on top. this would be a pretty easy camping recipe, and I think I will take it to Yellowstone this summer.
Baked Ziti
12" dutch oven
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. oregano
1 16 oz. pkg. ziti pasta, cooked and drained (I used penne)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In your DO brown the beef with the onion and garlic. I used about 25 coals. Drain any grease and stir in the spaghetti sauce chicken broth and oregano. Take away a few coals and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the pasta 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan into the meat mixture. Stir well. Bake for 20 minutes using 8 coals on the bottom and 16 on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses and bake 10 minutes more.
The Finished Product

What I Learned

I learned that there is alot to learn about charcoal. I am going to do some experimenting and see what works best, and I may even have to apologize to Kingsford brand after I try some of the others. I thought it was just me that was the problem with heat, but it may be partly the charcoal. I'll keep you posted.

The Review

This was your average baked ziti recipe. I got distracted and used to much ground beef and didn't add more sauce and broth, so mine was a little dry. If you followed the instructions it would be moist and delicious. It worked really well, and like I said, I will make this when we go camping this summer. Grade: B


  1. This does look like a good camping recipe Toni.

    A thought (or two) about charcoal issues:

    1- If you are storing your bag out side, even covered, it will absorb moisture from the air.

    2- I really like the Sams Choice brand - I find it very similar to the "old" Kingsford. I beleive that it is packaged by Royal Oak.

    3- Royal Oak is really a good choice in my opinion. I have a harder time finding it than the Sams Choice, but do like using it. NorCal Dave - another follower - is quite knowledgable about this subject. I hope he gets a chance to chime in and help out.

    Thanks again for posting your adventure!


  2. I bought a bag of Kingsford but havent used it yet. My folks place is in the oak scrubland so fuel is not problem, I just have to get used to using wood coals... But till I get used to temp control I'll stick with bricks...

    Keep it up your doing us all a favor :)

  3. Toni: I have tryed 2 or 3 times to make comments, but it just dosn't work for me. I must be better with D.O.s than computers. On my Bolg ( ) I gave a tip on browning buscuit. check it out. Keep up the good, no, great work. Ron Clanton

  4. I forgot to tell you, the tip is under the heading Q&A cooking tips.

  5. I use nothing but Sam's Choice.
    Never have a problem.

  6. The only ime I have problums with Kingsford, if I stored them outside. I know they have made some changes, but,I still like them best. Good luck with your serch.

  7. re: Kingsford. Before they changed to the "striped" coal it was much better. I find I use more of the Kingsford now than I used to. I, too, am going to start trying different brands again too. The good thing about Kingsford, for me, is that it is consistent, even if it doesn't last as long. At least I know how long the coals do last.

    By the way, you've inspired me to strip and reseason my trusty 12" dutch oven. I'm going to revive my Saturday Dutch Oven cooking that I used to do a few years go. Thanks for the inspiration. :)


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