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Seeking Canneloni Recipe

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There was a small Italian restaurant in Jersey City, NJ called Family Tree. I don't think they exist any longer.

Anyway, they made the best canneloni dish I'd ever had. It was in a white bechemal sauce, I believe it was stuffed with a ground veal mixture, possibly some pork - definately was not beef. Baked off really crisp and bubbling hot. Not a single tomato in the dish and it was very savory, lots of parmesean and cream.

I've been searching for a similar recipe to no avail. Nothing I find seems quite the same. Does anyone know of one which might fit the bill?

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  1. I believe you are speaking of a bechamel sauce with cheese (actually a modification of sauce Mornay). Make a bechamel and add parmigianno or peccorino, I also use creamy Havarti. For the filling, use chicken, spinach, ricotta, herbs, mushrooms. Blend in food processor. Make savory crepes, fill with filling, cover with sauce and bake. I prefer a meat sauce (bolognaise) on the plate under the crepe.

    1. I've never been to the restaurant you mention, but I've been making cannelloni for many years using a friend's grandmother's recipe. I like it better than anything I've ever had out, so see if it sounds right.

      PASTA
      1 1/2 C flour
      1 egg
      1 egg white
      1 Tbsp olive oil
      1 tsp salt
      1 Tbsp water

      Put flour in bowl and make a well. Put egg, egg white, oil and salt into well. Mix into rough ball, adding a few drops of water as necessary. Knead dough on floured board for 10 minutes. Wrap in wax paper and let sit 10 minutes. Divide into quarters and roll each until paper thin. Cut out about 36 rectangles, 2"x3". Cook in boiling water about 5 minutes. Spread on paper towels to dry.

      FILLING
      1 Tbsp olive oil
      1 medium onion, finely chopped
      1 clove garlic, finely chopped
      3/4 lb fresh spinach, cooked and finely chopped
      2 Tbsp butter
      1 lb ground round (but use veal or pork if you want)
      1 chicken liver
      5 Tbsp grated parm
      2 Tbsp heavy cream
      2 eggs, lightly beaten
      1 Tbsp oregano
      salt and pepper

      Cook onion and garlic in olive oil about 8 minutes until soft but not brown. Add spinach and cook 3 more minutes, stirring. When all moisture is gone, put mixture in bowl. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in skillet and lightly brown meat; add to mixture in bowl.Melt 1 Tbsp butter in skillet and cook liver 4 minutes until firm but pink inside. Chop coarsely. Add to mixture in bowl with parm, cream, eggs and oregano. Mix and season with salt and pepper.

      BESCIAMELLA
      4 Tbsp butter
      4 Tbsp flour
      1 cup milk
      1 cup heavy cream
      1 tsp salt, dash white pepper

      Melt butter in sauce pan. Remove from heat and stir in flour. Add milk and cream all at once, stirring constantly with whisk until flour dissolves. Return pan to heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly with whisk. REduce heat and simmer 2 or 3 minutes until sauc e is thick enough to coat wires on whisk heavily. Season with salt and pepper.

      My recipe also calls for a simple marinara sauce in additon to the white sauce, but you could leave out if you want.

      TO ASSEMBLE
      Preheat oven to 375. Roll about 1 Tbsp filling into each pasta rectangle. At this point I put some red sauce in the bottom of 2 baking dishes. Put cannelloni in pan side by side. Pour besciamella over cannelloni. I put more tomato sauce and some parm on top of the white sauce and bake uncovered about 20 minutes. I'm sure it would be pretty good without the tomato sauce added.

      Yes, it is as complicated as it sounds, takes me about 3 hours to make so I only do it once a year. But it's worth it!

      4 Replies
      1. re: coll

        Coll, w/out the tomato sauce and using veal and/or pork in lieu of the beef, it sounds very much like what I remember from that restaurant.

        Thanks very much for taking the time to post that. I'm saving it and can't wait to try it out for the next time my husband's very Italian side of the family comes over for dinner!

        1. re: sivyaleah

          Let us know what they think, my husband's family adores it (they never had an actual family recipe so I got off easy). My husband thinks the chicken liver makes it too rich, but we all disagree! The original recipe calls for 2 livers, and nobody will know the difference if you don't tell them. Adds a lot of flavor.

          1. re: coll

            I love chicken liver, but I wouldn't tell anyone it's in there - most people I know would be grossed out by it, especially my husband!

            1. re: sivyaleah

              ChiliDude would not be grossed out! ChiliDude makes chopped chicken liver about twice a year. If it wasn't for the cholesterol problem, I would make it more often. Recipe is in Joan Nathan's 'Jewish Cooking in America.'

      2. I made this yesterday. It was wonderful. I didn't use the chicken liver, instead I used ground pork and chicken.

        Thanks so much!! What a great recipe!