|The finished product - a terrible photo but it was delicious|
Every time I make pasta from scratch I get halfway through and swear I will never do it again, and this time was no exception. I have made ravioli a couple of times and also fettuccine and while it was fun, I always felt that the results didn't justify the effort. However, I had never made cannelloni before before and after eating this I was impressed and amazed. I will be very immodest and say honestly that this was the best cannelloni I have ever eaten. The texture was perfect, soft but not too soft, with a gentle bite to it. The handmade pasta combined with two classic sauces and baked up on a cold autumn night made for a fantastic meal that we shared with my Dad.
I used the host's Cannelloni Di Carne recipe which you can find here. The only thing that I did differently was to follow the instructions in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (my favourite Italian cookbook) for making pasta dough by hand. She instructs you to knead for a "full 8 minutes" until the dough is "as smooth as baby skin". So I set the timer and kneaded away. It seemed like a long time and if I hadn't been timing I probably would have stopped after about 5 minutes. But I noticed after around 7 minutes there was a significant change in the consistency if the dough - it became smoother and more supple.
The most tedious part of making pasta is the rolling, rolling and re-rolling and that is the point at which I curse myself for forgetting that I swore never to do this again. (Coincidentally a few days after making this I saw in Aldi an electric pasta roller and actually thought that is not such a crazy idea.) But it is also awkward and time consuming to boil the pasta before filling it with the meat sauce. Plus you have the make the meat sauce and the cheese sauce and then bake the completed product. Fortunately I lucked out with a patient and happy baby on this particular day and the end result was really spectacular.
Many thanks to Manu for this challenge (and to Marcella), I can no longer say that its not worth making your own pasta.
|A collage makes this look much easier than it was|
|My faithful assistant, also used to assess smoothness of the dough|