My children have never been particularly forthcoming with praise in regard to anything that requires cooking on a hob or in the oven. This Cannelloni, (I never knew how hard it was to spell this pesky word, 3 n’s and 2 l’s) brings out utterances of pure pleasure from them. Which is saying something, because they are usually monosyllabic until around 5 pm.
1 tablespoon of oil
400g beef mince
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
2, 500g cartons or jars of passata
1 dessert spoon of sugar
dried cannelloni tubes to line your dish
50g butter or margarine
50 g plain flour
140g soft cheese with garlic and herbs
grated parmesan or cheese of choice
Fry the beef mince until brown, drain off the fat and set aside. Fry the chopped onions in the tablespoon of oil until soft and add the garlic after around 5 minutes, fry for half a minute and add the beef again. Add 1 and a half cartons of the passata, saving the rest for later, then add the sugar. Mix well, season, and simmer gently for about 1 hour. The longer the better.
Melt the butter in a clean saucepan. Add the flour next and stir for around 20 seconds and gradually add the milk until you get a smooth thick sauce. This is a very tricky thing to do without getting lumps, so pour through a sieve if needed. Add the soft cheese and stir. Cover and leave at room temperature.
Assemblage can be viewed as therapeutic or laborious, depending on your mood. Pour into a rectangular oven proof dish, the remaining 250g of passata so it covers with a thin layer over the bottom. Fill your cannelloni tubes with the meat mixture. I find using a teaspoon is adequate or a table knife. Whatever you decide to use, you will need a shed load of patience!
Lay the tubes on top of the passatta, then pour over your white sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese and pop in the oven for 50 minutes at gas mark 6/200c.
You’ll probably have quite a bit of meat sauce left which you can freeze and use next time.