As promised from yesterday I am posting today about my husband's favorite dish. It's a tribute of sorts to my own husband, whom I love dearly. It also serves as a reminder to cherish each day you have with your loved ones and never put off til tomorrow what you can do today.
This dish is something I came up with as a play off of my grandmother's version of cannelloni. We all know that Italians love their sauce, and this is very true. My father's side of the family however hails from Northern Italy and let me tell you, food is a whole different ball game up there.
My grandmother's food is always filled with lots of cheese and white sauces, also know as bechamel. My Sicilian mother-in-law makes bechamel but nixes the addition of cheese, which is a pretty common practice. Not my grandmother though, she takes the business of cheese so seriously that every time she comes to visit she comes with a wedge of cheese that could feed a small army, because God forbid we ever run out of cheese in our house. In the 2.5 years that I have been married, I have never bought Parmesan cheese. Not even once.
My grandmother's cannelloni is made with bechamel and is filled with chopped meat, carrots and other veggies. It's delicious, but I had to make it my own. I first made the dish during our dating dates in high school and it was an instant hit with my family, my biggest fans being my husband and my father. There's has been many a cannelloni eating competitions between the two to see who could eat the most, I believe my father holds the record at 9.
I hope you all enjoy the recipe as much as my family does. I have made it so many times over the years that I could probably do it in my sleep by now. It is a recipe that I will make for and with my children one day and I hope you share it with your family too.
Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time; 45 minutes I Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 1 lb store bought manicotti
- 3 oz sliced prosciutto or pancetta
- 1/2 lb chicken
- 2 tablespoons grated cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 tablespoons grated cheese
- 1/2 tablespoon chicken bullion
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
Start by filling a pasta pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and begin working on the sauce.
Start the bechamel sauce by melting butter in a saucepan, when it is almost fully melted add the flour and whisk vigorously. You want to end up with a thick, almost clumpy mixture. Add the milk and whisk again to incorporate fully and break up all of the clumps, add the water and the rest of the ingredients and let the sauce cook down. You can add more salt or milk if it you feel it is not salty enough or vice versa. The end result you want is a thick, creamy sauce. It will take a few minutes for the sauce to thicken, if you need you can add a little flour 1 tablespoon at a time to thicken but keep in mind you will need to add more cheese or salt so the sauce wont taste like straight flour. If you happen to have Wondra on hand you can add that.
Wondra is a great tool to have in the kitchen. It is a very fine powder that can be added to just about any cream or wine based sauce to thicken it up. Wondra is great because it is completely flavorless and really saves you on having to constantly fix your sauce everytime you add more flour. It's cheap and can be found at
As you let the sauce cook down begin working on the filling for the cannelloni. Dice the chicken into very small pieces and cook fully in a large frying pan over medium heat. While the chicken is cooking using either a knife or your fingers break the prosciutto into small pieces and add into frying pan with the chicken once the chicken is fully cooked. Let the two meats cook for a few minutes together so the prosciutto can crisp up a little bit. Stir in approximately half of the bechamel sauce and the shredded mozzarella and stir the ingredients until it looks something like this:
Once the water comes to a boil add the pasta in and cook fully. Take the pasta out when it is slightly al dente since it will cook a little more in the oven. Put the pasta from the water and let them cool for a few minutes before filling.
In a glass baking pan pour some sauce it until the bottom is covered. Then take one cannelloni shell and fill it with the chicken and prosciutto mixture. You don't need to overfill them, just enough so that way you have a good amount of filling inside. Repeat this until you have filled all the cannelloni.
Arrange the cannelloni in the baking dish and cover with the remaining sauce. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top begins to get a little golden.