The warmth and comfort of cannelloni
Cannelloni always connotes a feeling of comfort and heartiness that I can’t think of any other pasta dish as having. I love the softness of the pasta, the creamy bechamel, the tang of the sauce all wrapped around a meaty or cheesy center. It’s a tasty meal in itself and an extravagant indulgence to boot. I personally love to indulge in this baked pasta dish on a rainy and cold day to help keep my spirits up.
A high maintenance pasta dish
Good thing baked cannelloni is tasty, otherwise, it might just not be worth all that hard work. There’s so much to do. The filling needs to be put together. The tomato sauce needs to be made. What should be done with the pasta? Homemade for a tender cannelloni or easy store-bought shells? To add cheese to the bechamel or not?
Don’t be scared
It may seem daunting at first but overall there is comfort in the fact that most of the components are easy to put together. Besides if you need a little help in the kitchen this is a great thing to cook as a team. Get your family to help out or invite some friends over and put them to work. It’s a fun project with an even tastier prize at the end-a big dish of baked cannelloni to share.
Pork it up
I know that normal cannelloni stuffings usually consist of a ricotta mixture or beef filling. However, I like to do things a little differently and make pork cannelloni instead. Why is this? Well, here in tropical Malaysia, good beef and good ricotta are difficult to come by and if I can’t use the best ingredients for this high maintenance pasta dish, well then it just isn’t worth it. So instead I use pork mince which is better quality in comparison to the beef. To add a little tang and bite to the pork cannelloni, I smother it in a spicy tomato and Spanish chorizo sauce (Spanish chorizo-easier to come by than decent beef mince in Malaysia, who knew?). Top it all with a creamy bechamel sauce and it is a dream on your plate.
Cuddle up to this meaty pork cannelloni with chorizo sauce and bechamel. A creamy, spicy and porky indulgence perfect for a rainy day. #pork #pasta #chorizo #bakedpasta
- 400 g minced pork
- 1/4 cup (60 g) breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 100 g chopped Spanish Chorizo
- 1 can (400 g/14 oz) stewed tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- a handful of grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Lasagne sheets (fresh or prepackaged…both are fine)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine minced pork, breadcrumbs, egg, seasonings, salt and pepper together and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Set aside.
- Clean the red bell pepper and cook over high heat either in the oven or on the stovetop flame until the skin is scorched and bubbling. Wrap in aluminum foil and allow to steam inside the foil for 20-30 min.
- When cool, unwrap the red bell pepper from the aluminum foil, scrape off the skin and remove the seeds inside.
- Empty the canned tomatoes into a bowl and crush the whole tomatoes with your hands.
- Chop up the roasted red bell pepper and add to crushed stewed tomatoes.
- Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan add olive oil, sliced garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped chorizo and cook on low to medium heat until the oil has taken on the color of the red pepper flakes and chorizo as well as the flavor of the garlic. Garlic should be slightly colored around the edges but not burnt, so watch carefully.
- When ready (oil is red, garlic is slightly golden), add stewed tomatoes and roasted red bell pepper mixture, oregano and water.
- Stir to combine and cook over medium heat until bubbly and all ingredients have ‘married together’.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low to medium heat.
- Once melted, add flour and whisk together forming a roux.
- Add a pinch of nutmeg to the roux and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes on low heat.
- Slowly whisk in milk little by little, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- When all the milk has been added, increase heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil (make sure you give this the occasional stir so as to prevent it from forming lumps or collecting at the bottom).
- If you are feeling cheesy, add some freshly grated Parmesan and whisk in, allowing it to melt in the sauce.
- Turn down heat to low and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- If not using fresh pasta, cook prepackaged lasagna sheets according to directions until they are soft and pliable.
- Add a line of meat filling to the pasta and roll up into a tube, forming cannelloni.
- Trim off any excess pasta.
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
- In a casserole dish or baking pan, spoon half the spicy chorizo sauce onto the bottom of the pan.
- Place all of the cannelloni on top of the sauce and spoon the rest of the spicy chorizo sauce on top.
- Top with white sauce and sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese (if you like).
- Bake in the oven uncovered at 200C/400F for 30-40 min until the pork filling is thoroughly cooked.
- Let rest 5 min before serving.
- Serve with crusty bread and a crispy green salad. Enjoy!
- Category: Pasta
- Method: baking, simmering
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Pork, Cannelloni, chorizo, baked pasta, spicy, cannelloni