The Daring Cooks June Challenge: Cannelloni with radiccio and pancetta filling

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!

I am too late this month, but neverthless I will share the recipe I made for this month's challenge. I've made pasta from scratch before, and I know it's taste is unbeatable compared to store-bought one. But making the dough takes time, something I didn't have so much during the last weeks. I preferred to sit on my couch and to knit to be honest. I didn't have the energy to crouch into my cabinet, fishing for the pasta mashine on the top shelf and (much worse) cleaning it afterwards. Until I remembered I had this pancetta in my freezer and this radicchio into my fridge. I bough the radicchio about a week ago in an attempt of making something with an ingredient which I didn't use before. The thing was near to expiration date (looking at it), and I didn't wanted to throw away (I hate to cast away groceries). So I fought my inner couch potato and got cooking. The original combination of radicchio and pancetta goes with Taleggio which isn't availiable here, so I used Provolone (which I added to the bechamel sauce too). Iit's really easier to make cannelloni this way (with fresh dough instead using the store-bought ones - I found them more difficult to fill and you need to cook them before using (which you can omit when using fresh dough as I found out).  So thanks again daring Cooks for challenging me - I killed two birds with a stone this time - using radicchio and making delicious cannelloni from scratch.


Cannelloni with radiccio and pancetta filling

Fresh egg pasta
  • 1 egg per 100g plain flour (I used Italian 'Tipo 00')
I made a double batch.
Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and mix (I usually use a fork which works really well). 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.
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.
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. 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”).

Béchamel Sauce
(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 nutmeg25 g Provolone, grated
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. 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. Add salt and nutmeg and cook it on a low flame for 10 minutes or until it thickens. Add the Provolone and stir until completely incorporated. When ready, cover it to prevent a film to appear on the surface. 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.

Radicchio and Pancetta filling
  • one radicchio, core removed, cut into small stripes
  • 200g canned tomatoes
  • 1 tblspoon olive oil
  • one red onion, diced
  • 200 g Pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 25 g Provolone, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
Fry the Pancetta in the olive oil on medium heat until it starts to get brown. Add the onions and fry for a minute; then add the radicchio, increase heat and cook (stirring the whole time) until it's getting soft. Stir in the tomatoes and the thyme, season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the Provolone. Let cool

  • one batch Béchamel Sauce
  • one batch filling
  • 35 g Pecorino, freshly grated
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 Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down.
(I skipped this step, and the canneloni came out fine because they absorbed the rest of the water in the filling.)
Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put some filling along the long side of the rectangle. Roll it over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta. Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly. Spray it with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some bechamel sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer.
Cover the cannelloni with the remaining béchamel sauce and sprinkle with  ½ cup (35 g) of Pecorino.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. Serve immediately.

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