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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stuffed Cannelloni

Homemade Stuffed Cannelloni

My latest obsession - the pasta making process. It is long, arduous and messy, but there is also a great sense of accomplishment and almost zen when you are done. It is not difficult - with a little practice a basic level of competence can be reached.

Last night, I found myself with an empty house and 2 1/2 hours of downtime. My relaxation of choice? The adult version of PlayDoh!

I decided on a simple pasta - cannelloni - rolled 3"x5" squares stuffed with whatever. First step - make the pasta.

Egg Bowl

Give yourself a lot of room to work. Most basic dough recipes are some combination of flour, eggs, maybe oil and salt. I used one without oil, but with lots of eggs (2 1/3 C flour, 4 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs, 1/2 tspn salt). Use the fluor to make a bowl to hold the eggs, and salt. mix the eggs and salt together encorporating the flour slowly to make a paste.

Flour and Egg Mixture

Keep mixing in the flour and then start the kneading process with your hands. If the dough is too hard to work with, add a tablespoon of water, working it into the dough with your thumbs. Be patient. Be kind. The dough is your friend. Keep kneading the dough until it is somewhat elastic, but doesn't significantly change shape when you take your hands away. This process usually takes me 10-20 minutes by hand.

Now let the poor dough rest. Wrap it in plastic and let it sit for an hour. Go pour yourself a nice glass of Chianti - you've earned it - kneading is hard work.

Now get back to work. You have sauce and stuffing to make. For my stuffing, I diced onion, celery and carrot and sauteed it with garlic (I put the garlic in at the end of the saute so it wouldn't burn and taste bitter). I then browned bison meat with the veggies, added tomato paste, diced mushrooms, paprika, salt (taste to make sure you use enough)and pepper. A little reduced stock, parsley and a couple more eggs, a few pulses in the food processor, and voila!

Beef and Mushroom Stuffing

The last component is the sauce. I sauteed diced onions, added diced tomatoes, fresh basil, salt and pepper and let it cook down a bit. Meanwhile, I rolled out the pasta to make the squares (I went to setting 5 for thickness).

Roll Out the Pasta!

The pasta squares, once cut, need to boil for a minute or two. The sauce goes in the baking pan, the stuffed squares go on top of the sauce, a mix of 1/2C of cream, 1/2C parmesan goes on top, as well as a few pieces of butter. Bake at 400 deg for 20 minutes till brown on top. Maybe do some situps and pushups while you are waiting - have you seen what's in this recipe?