Monday, June 18, 2012

The Daring Cook's June 2012: Cannelloni

Manu from Manu’s Menu was our Daring Cooks lovely June hostess and has challenged us to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch! We were taught how to make the pasta, filling, and sauces shared with us from her own and her family’s treasured recipes! What a great challenge this was. I made a meat filled cannelloni and it was DELICIOUS! If you haven't tried making homemade pasta, oh, how I encourage you to do it. It was fun! I do own a pasta machine, and so it did make it a tad easier. Following are the recipes I used to make my Cannelloni di Carne. HOW TO MAKE EGG PASTA Making egg pasta is very easy. You only require eggs and flour (Italian 00 or all-purpose flour) in a proportion of (1 egg per 100 grams of flour). Ingredients (to make enough cannelloni for 4 persons): 100 grams (2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons) (170 ml) (3½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour 1 large egg Directions: 1. Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and mix. When the dough looks like crumbs, pour it onto the bench top sprinkled with a little flour. Knead well by hand until you obtain a smooth dough. Make it into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. 2. Now you are ready to make your egg pasta. Cut out a piece of egg pasta dough and flatten it into a rectangular shape with your hands. Put a little flour on it and begin passing it though the pasta machine. Turn the dial to the widest setting (#1) and, starting with one of the shorter sides of the rectangle, feed it through the rollers. Now fold one side of the piece of dough into the middle, then fold the other side over that to form 3 layers. Starting with one of the narrower sides of the folded dough, feed the pasta through the machine, again at the widest setting. Repeat the folding and rolling technique on the widest setting for at least a couple of times. 3. Now you can start rolling it thinner, by turning the dial to the next narrowest setting (# 2). Roll the pasta through the machine without folding the dough between settings. Keep reducing the settings until #7 (it is the second last on my machine – about 1 mm thick). If the sheet of pasta gets too long, you can cut it in half with a knife. To make cannelloni, cut out rectangular pasta sheets (10x15 cm) (4”x6”). NOTE: you can do this even without the pasta machine… just use a rolling pin to get a very thin sheet of dough and then cut it into rectangles. BÉCHAMEL SAUCE Ingredients (enough to make cannelloni for 4 people): 2 cups (500 ml) milk, hot 3½ tablespoons (52½ ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) butter 1/3 cup (80 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour 1 pinch salt 1 pinch nutmeg Directions: 1. Put the butter in a non-stick pot and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk constantly until well incorporated: this is the “roux”. Let it cook for a minute or two. 2. Now start adding hot milk little by little, while mixing continuously until the milk is well incorporated. Do not add more milk unless it is well incorporated. Keep doing so until all the milk is incorporated. 3. Add salt and nutmeg and cook it on a low flame for 10 minutes or until it thickens. 4. When ready, cover it to prevent a film to appear on the surface. Note: If you still get a lumpy sauce, do not throw it out. You can still save it and make it smooth by using a hand stick blender. CANNELLONI DI CARNE This is another classic recipe for cannelloni. It is a meat filled version of the dish and it is my husband’s favourite. It is a pretty straightforward recipe but it requires a couple of extra steps if compared to the Cannelloni di magro recipe, as the filling has to be cooked before being used in the pasta, but I can guarantee that you will not mind the extra work when you eat it! Ingredients (serves 4) Cannelloni sheets per recipe above (you should have about 8 sheets) For the filling 1 lb (400 gm) beef mince 1 lb (400 gm) pork mince (or another 1 lb – 400 gm of beef mince if you do not eat pork) 1 onion, chopped 3 tablespoon (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil 1 bay leaf 5 tablespoons (75 ml) white wine (optional – you can skip this if you do not drink alcohol) 1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated ¾ cups (200 ml) of the béchamel sauce as per above recipe Salt and pepper to taste For the tomato sauce 1 small onion, chopped 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil 2¾ cups (680 ml/1½ pint bottle) of tomato purée A few basil leaves Salt and pepper to taste To assemble The remaining (about 1¼ cup/300 ml) béchamel sauce as per above recipe ½ cup (35 gm/1 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated Directions: 1. Start by cooking the meat for the filling. Put the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the mince and bay leaf and stir well with a wooden spoon making sure you remove all the lumps. Brown the meat well. Add the white wine (if you are using it – otherwise add some water, just enough to cook the meat) and raise the fire to burn off the alcohol. Cook for 10 minutes on medium fire and then keep it aside to cool down. 2. Now prepare the tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pot with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the tomato purée, salt, pepper and basil leaves. Cover it and cook it on a low flame for 20 minutes. Then keep it aside to cool down. 3. To make the filling, mix the cooked mince with the ¾ cup (200 ml) of béchamel sauce and 1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. 4. Put a large pot with salty water on the fire and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta sheets in it for 1 minute. Do this in batches (I use a shallow but large pot and I cook them in 1 layer, so I am sure they do not stick together). Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down. 5. Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put 1/8 of the filling along the long side of the rectangle. Roll it over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta. 6. Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly. Spray it with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some tomato sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer. 7. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining tomato sauce and 1¼ cup/300 ml béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup (35 gm/1 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano. 8. Bake them in a pre-heated moderate oven 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes, then broil (grill) them at 400°F/200°C for another 5 minutes. 9. Serve immediately.