Pork Cannelloni with Porcini Bechamel

Alex's Recipe Book

This recipe is both impressive and simple albeit just a little bit time consuming. The end product has the feel of a handmade meal right out of an Italian Grandmother’s kitchen. Don’t be intimidated by making your own pasta, it couldn’t be easier and all you really need is a rolling pin. If you have a pasta roller, the process will require less muscle but the tool is by no means necessary. All parts of this dish can easily be prepared ahead of time so you can simply pop it in the oven until the top is crusty and the sauce is bubbling.

Bechamel Ingredients

4 cups of whole milk
¼ cup white onion, diced small
5 oz porcini mushrooms, diced small
2 oz butter
2 oz flour

Saute the onion in the butter until just fragrant, add the flour and whisk. Cook for 3-5 minutes on low until the flour just begins to change color, do not let this burn! Slowly add the milk while whisking vigorously. Bring to a simmer and add the mushrooms and thyme then cook for 20 minutes, stirring to ensure the bottom doesn’t scorch. Season to taste with salt and a generous amount of pepper and set aside.

Filling Ingredients

4 lbs pork loin
1 white onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
thyme, rosemary & sage

Season the loins with salt & pepper and sear all sides in a hot pan until golden brown and set aside. Deglaze the pan with a splash of water and scrape all the fond (food bits) off the bottom and toss in the vegetables; cook until soft and set aside.

After everything cools, dice the pork and grind it together with the vegetables and any juices left behind. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add it to a ziploc or pastry bag for filling the cannelloni.

Pasta Ingredients

12 oz all-purpose flour
12 oz semolina flour
3 eggs
3 Tbs olive oil
5 Tbs water
1.5 tsp salt

Mix the flours and salt in a bowl and make a well, add the wet ingredients and slowly mix with your fingers, the flours and liquids will gradually incorporate and you’ll eventually end up with dough. Kneed the dough for 2-3 minutes until a ball forms. Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Pull clementine-sized pieces off the ball and roll them in to a flat strip with a rolling pin. Using either a pasta roller or a rolling pin, flatten the dough to the widest setting or ¼ inch. Fold the strip in on itself from each edge like an envelope and rotate it 90 degrees. Roll it flat again with the machine or a pin to the same thickness; repeat this one more time.

Now that the dough is even and strong, begin to flatten it one setting at a time with a machine to a thickness of your liking (I go to a 6 out of 9 on my machine, it’s pretty thin). With the rolling pin, you’ll want to roll it to the same width of 4 inches and as thin as you can manage. Dust with all-purpose flour during the process to reduce sticking.

Do this with all the dough then flour generously and cut in to 4 inch by 4 inch squares. Set aside under a towel until ready to use - which should be as soon as possible.

Final Assembly Ingredients

2 Tbs chopped thyme, sage & rosemary
1 cup parmesan, grated

Coat a very large high-walled pan or baking dish with olive oil, then a thick layer of bechamel. Take a pasta square and pipe a quarter to golfball sized log of the pork filling on one side of the pasta square. Roll the square up in a tube and place it seam-side down in the pan. Repeat this process until the pan is full and all the squares have been used. Disperse any remaining filling over the top of the cannelloni. Mix the remaining bechamel with about 2 cups of water and pour it on top of the cannelloni. Top with the parmesan, herbs & flakey salt, cover with foil and bake until bubbling then remove the foil and broil on low until the cheese browns just a little.

Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving with some roasted vegetables and enjoy!