Cannelloni di Carne is a meat-filled version of cannelloni and it also happens to be my husband’s favorite. It is a pretty straightforward recipe but it requires a couple of extra steps if compared to other recipes, 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! Enjoy!
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Combine the olive oil in a pot with the onion and sauté over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes and basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Combine the olive oil in a pan with the chopped onion and sauté over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the ground meats 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 using (otherwise add some water, just enough to cook the meat) and increase the heat to high to burn off the alcohol. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat and then set aside to cool.
To make the filling, mix the cooked meat with ¾ cup of the béchamel sauce and 1 ½ cups of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.*
Bring a shallow, large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta sheets for 1 minute. Do this in batches (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 kitchen towel to cool down.
Now take 1 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.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly and coat with cooking spray. Pour some tomato sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish in 1 layer.
Cover the cannelloni with the remaining tomato sauce and béchamel sauce and top with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes, then increase the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.