Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cannelloni di Cervo

This is a great way to use up some venison that is leftover from the hunting season other than making sausage with it. This is a very rich and complex ragu recipe that is mixed with homemade ricotta and parmigiano reggiano to make a delicious filling for this rolled stuffed pasta. This is a little more traditional for something you'd see in Northern Italian cooking yet takes a Southern Italian twist by using pasta as opposed to using crepes. This serves as a great appetizer for a special winter occasion or holiday meal. This is a time consuming process so feel free to do it over a couple of days to save you time. The ragu and ricotta can be made the day before and the pasta and finishing touches can be done before your guests arrive. All you will have to do come party time is pop it in the oven.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
1# or 3 1/2 cups Semolina Flour
5 Lg. Eggs, room temp
3T extra virgin olive oil
1T salt

Method - Day 2:

combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
cut dough with a knife into 5" squares
Bring 6 qts of water to a boil
add 2T of salt
drop pasta in batches and cook until pasta floats
once floating, immediately plunge sheets into ice water
once cold pull sheets out of ice water and pat dry
continue to finishing steps

For Ricotta Cheese:
1/2 Gallon Whole Milk
1 pint Buttermilk
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream
pinch of salt

Method - Day 1:
Combine all ingredients in sauce pan on low heat and bring to boil
once boiling turn off heat and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes
pour through cheesecloth lined strainer and let rest for 20 minutes
transfer to airtight container and refrigerate over night(if you want, you can do entire process in one day)

For Ragu:
2T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Pancetta cut into lardons or matchsticks
3# Venison Roast
2 red onions, diced
3 carrots (for store-bought) cut into 1/4" thick discs
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 6oz can of tomato paste
3 cups red wine (Malbec, Barolo, Barbaresco)
3 cups Venison Stock (sub Veal stock, or beef stock, preferably homemade)
1 2.5oz pkg. Veal demi glace
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate (preferably Valrhona)
TT coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher)
TT coarse black pepper (tellicherry)
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1 Sachet (cheesecloth wrapped & tied with following ingredients inside):
* 2 sprigs rosemary
* 4 sprigs thyme
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 10 Juniper Berries
* 6 Cloves

Method for ragu - Day 1:
pull venison roast out, and let rest at room temp for 1 hour
In dutch oven, heat the olive oil on low heat and add the pancetta
pre heat oven to 250-275F
cook until nice and crispy about 10-15 minutes
remove pancetta and turn heat up to high
season roast all over with salt and pepper
add roast to pan and sear all over so meat is dark brown on all sides
remove roast from pan and lower heat to medium low
add onions and saute reduced in volume by 3/4 stirring occasionally about 20-30 minutes (onions should be nice and browned but not burnt)
add the carrots and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes
add the tomato paste and cook for 10 minutes until paste has browned
return the roast and the pancetta to the dutch oven
add the wine, stock, demi glace & sachet and bring to a boil
once boiling cover and put into the oven
roast for 3 hours turning meat venison roast over every hour to ensure even cooking
after 3 hours remove from oven
pull out the venison roast and cut into bite size pieces
pour liquid into gravy separator, keeping all the vegetables, pancetta and sachet still in the dutch oven
add venison back to dutch oven and pour the cooking liquid minus the fat, back into the dutch oven
turn stove on to med-low and simmer uncovered until liquid has reduced until almost fully absorbed into meat and vegetables stir occasionally to prevent bottom from burning(about 45 minutes-1 hour)
turn off the heat, remove sachet, and stir in the dark chocolate and the chopped rosemary and thyme
allow to cool completely
transfer to air tight container and refrigerate overnight(if you want, you can do entire process in one day)

For finishing:
3 cups grated parmigiano reggiano, plus extra
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup or less cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona)

Method - Day 2:
In a mixing bowl, combine the ragu with the ricotta and 1 1/2 cups of the grated parmigiano reggiano
Mix together until homogenous
place around 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the filling onto each cooked and cooled pasta square
Roll up to form the classic cannelloni shape
take stick of butter and lightly grease pyrex dishes
place the cannelloni in the pyrex dishes
take the remaining butter and break apart with your fingers over the top of all the cannelloni
take the remaining 1 1/2 cups of parmigiano reggiano and sprinkle that over the cannelloni (cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until guests arrive)
pre heat oven to 450F
once oven is ready, unwrap the plastic and place the cannelloni in the oven and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the cannelloni are nice and browned and crispy on the top
remove from the oven and grate some parmigiano reggiano over the top, sprinkle with some more of the rosemary and thyme if you like
place the cocoa powder in a strainer and dust the tops of the cannelloni with just the lightest amount of the cocoa. (Don't put on too much or it will over power the flavor of the rest of the dish).
scoop cannelloni out of pyrex and onto individual plates or serving platter
serve immediately

I like this with a glass of complex malbec or a glass of barolo

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