Serves a Crowd

Baked Meat Cannelloni - Cannelloni di Carne al Forno

January 19, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This recipe is traditional from Emilia-Romagna where you have the cities of Bologna, Parma and Modena. Thus the filling is very much like a Bolognese Sauce but with the meat seperated from the tomato sauce. They also mix the tomato sauce with some bechamel which lends a softer, sweater and creamier texture to the tomato sauce. Some families make this recipe with cooked ham, while others make it with Prosciutto or even Mortadella. This is the version I like the best and that I use at home. In Italy some people use cannellonis which are large tubes of dry pasta that are sold in the dry pasta department in supermarkets. Because there is a lot of sauce, you don't have to pre-cook them as they will cook in the tomato sauce, which is why the recipe neds this much of tomato sauce. You just fill the uncooked tubes of pasta, layer them in the sauce, cover with more sauce and it's ready. I don't know if you can find the dry pasta cannellonis in the United States so I give you my method using pre-cooked lasagna sheets in which I roll the meat. Obviously it means a longer time to prepare the dish but it's worth while. And if you feel like making your own pasta, then that's out of heaven! Ladies and gentlemen, the recipe is here, let's give it a try! —Maria Teresa Jorge

What You'll Need
  • Meat filling for the cannelloni
  • 7 ounces minced veal
  • 7 ounces minced pork
  • 4 ounces chicken breat minced
  • 4 ounces Italian sausage without the casing and crumbled
  • 3.5 ounces Parmesan grated
  • 2 slices of Prosciutto, chopped very finely
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper freshly ground
  • 5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • For the Tomato Sauce
  • 24 ounces bottle of tomato passata - see explanation at the bottom of the recipe
  • 2 garlic cloves, green inner part removed and chopped very finely
  • 1 medium red onion chopped very finely
  • 5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 oven-ready lasagne noodles
  • 1/3 cup parmesan for topping cannellonis
  • Bechamel Sauce
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 ounces all purpose flour
  • 3 ounces butter cut in small pieces
  • salt
  • white pepper freshly ground
  • 1 dash nutmeg
  1. Chop the Prosciutto finely and set aside.
  2. In a wide pan, over medium heat, add the 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Start by adding the crumbled sausage meat, stir well and let start gett some colour. Add the veal a bit at a time and stir. let start to brown. Then add the pork, a little at a time and continue browning. Finally add the chicken. The procedure is a little slow because you want to brown the meat and if you put all the meat in one go it starts to loose it's water and you end up with boiled rubbery meat instead of fryied meat.
  3. Keep stirring the meat until golden brown all through, add the white wine, stir, let the alcohol evaporate, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and some nutmeg. Put the meat in a colander over a bowl and allow to cool. All the excess fat and liquid will fall through the colander.
  4. When cool, put the fryied meat in a bowl, add the chopped prosciutto, the egg lightly beaten and the parmesan cheese. Mix everything very well to blend all the ingredients.
  5. For the Becahmel Sauce: Warm up the milk.
  6. In a medium saucepan, melt the cut up butter until it starts to get a little blond. Add the flour all at once and stir continuously over low heat until well blended.
  7. Slowly add the warm milk, stirring constantly (I actually prefer to use a whisk, I think it helps blending better). When it's all incorporated, continue cooking for 15 minutes over low heat. You need to cook the bechamel sauce for this amount of time to cook the flour and minimize the taste of raw flour.
  8. Season with salt, freshly ground white pepper, a nice dash of freshly grated nutmeg and let cool. The bechamel should remain soft, not thick.
  9. For the Tomato sauce: In a pan over medium heat add 5 tablespoons of olive oil, the 2 chopped garlics and the onion chopped very finely. Stir until the onion is translucent, Add the passata, stir, add a pinch of salt and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until you have a thick tomato sauce.
  10. For the cannelloni (see note at the bottom if you have dry pasta cannellonis): Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. On the side have a big bowl of cold salted water with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  11. Prepare on your your work surface 2 clean kitchen tea towels (linen or cotton - not terry cloth) to drain the cooked lasagna sheets.
  12. Add 2 or 3 pasta sheets a time and cook about 2 minutes.Remove each lasagne square out with a slotted spoon and dip it in a bowl with salted cold water. When cold, drain and set them on the clean kitchen tea towel, making sure they don’t overlap so they don’t stick to each other.
  13. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in the middle. Prepare a 13- by 9- by 2-inch ceramic baking dish.
  14. Divide the meat filling on the lasagna rectangles in a line on the short side of the pasta rectangle, then roll up to close filling.
  15. Add half the bechamel sauce to the tomato sauce and stir well to mix.
  16. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a good layer of tomato bechamel mixture.Align the rolled cannelloni's, seam side down, to baking dish, starting.on one of the ends. Finish putting all the cannellonis in the dish and cover completely with the tomato bechamel sauce.
  17. Sprinkle generously with parmesan on top, and finish with a few tablespoons of the remainder bechamel over the tomato sauce.
  18. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven, half open the door and leave the cannellonis to rest and the sauce will thicken a little.
  19. Serve hot.
  20. Note: in Italy people use cannellonis which are large tubes of dry pasta. Because there is a lot of sauce you don't have to pre-cook them and they also absorb some liquid from the tomato sauce, which is why you need this much tomato sauce. I don't know if in the U.S you can find these large pasta tubes. If you can, use them by all means, it's much easier then making them out of lasagna. You just fill them with a small spoon or preferably with a piping bag, until the whole tube is filled with meat, then put them on the tomato sauce, cover with tomato sauce, some bechamel and bake for 30 minutes.
  21. Tomato Passata: In Italy we have 2 different kinds of tomato sauce - one is Passata and the other is Pomarola. The Passata is fresh tomatoes, peeled and passed through a vegetable mill so you have in fact raw tomato juice. You can make it by processing canned peeled tomatoes with the liquid that comes in the tin - as easy as that! The Pomarola, or tomato sauce, is made with passata as a base, but is cooked with olive oil, onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, basil and sometimes some celery, salt and pepper. It is then cooked for about 45 minutes to reduce and obtain a thicker sauce that is already finished.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Shawntay
  • Jon Hinz
    Jon Hinz
  • Annelle
  • dymnyno
  • lastnightsdinner

17 Reviews

Jc September 22, 2023
Excellent. I made a half recipe and needed 8 Trader Joe’s lasagna noodles for that amount of filling.
Shawntay April 4, 2022
This recipe was delicious! I will definitely make this again :)
Jon H. December 22, 2018
Tried this recipe and the results were fantastic. Wanted to make this for dinner tonight and was in a panic because I couldn't find my paper recipe. Thank goodness for google. I made this recipe for a fund raiser competition and won, so it is my go to recipe for large gatherings. I have the individual baking dishes so they come right out of the oven and are good to go right to the table.
Maria T. December 23, 2018
I am delighted you like the récipe and congratulations for winning the fund raiser competion.
Happy Holidays,
Maria Teresa
eternalgradstudent March 11, 2012
We made this last night, and the flavors are really excellent. However, I think there must be a mistake in the recipe - 30 oz of butter and 30 oz of flour is WAY too much for 4 cups of milk. After checking some other bechemel recipes, I went with ~3oz of each.
Maria T. March 11, 2012
I'm so sorry for the mistake, of course it's 3 oz each butter and flour.
I'm glad you liked the dish.
Many thanks for pointing this out.
Annelle January 23, 2010
Lovely recipe. Not familiar with tomato passata, so looking forward to trying this!
Maria T. January 23, 2010
Thank you for your comment. Tomato passata is plain fresh or canned tomatoes uncooked. Peel and de-seed if they are fresh. If canned and unpeeled, just use a immersion blender. Or look in the supermarket for uncooked tomato sauce.
lastnightsdinner January 25, 2010
I've been able to find passata at specialty stores here in the states, as well as at Whole Foods Market. It's generally shelved near the canned tomato products, and is usually in a glass bottle.
dymnyno January 21, 2010
Sounds delicious...the sauce sounds like a ragu recipe.
Maria T. January 22, 2010
Yes, but as you can see the tomato is kept seperate from the meat, which is very interesting. Thank you for your comment.
lastnightsdinner January 19, 2010
I am lamenting the fact that I can't make this right now. Another beautiful recipe, and thank you for sharing it.
Maria T. January 20, 2010
Thank you so much for your nice comment.
pierino January 19, 2010
As always I remain a big fan of Maria Teresa's style of cooking, especially when you get into Italy's belly, Bologna. I would add another note tomato passata is basically tomato sauce, pureed but it's on the "loose" side. Easy to find jarred in Italy. Not so easy here. You might need to thin it. But I love the combination of mixed meats in this. Grinding mortadella into your mixture gives it an exquisite creaminess only the emilians would think of.
Maria T. January 20, 2010
Thank you for your comment and explanation of what Tomato passata is, I didn't know it was difficult to find in the States.
pierino January 20, 2010
You are welcome chef. I always look forward to your recipes because we both think along the same parallels of lattitude from Portugal, to Spain to Italy.
Maria T. January 20, 2010
Thank you.