Cannelloni

See the RecipeDavid Sawyer

SERVES 4 - 6

This immensely satisfying variation on cannelloni Rossini was developed years ago by Jim Hamilton, father of former SAVEUR kitchen director Melissa Hamilton.

**FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
4 tbsp. butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE FILLING:
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 chicken liver, chopped (optional)
6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thigh, chopped
6 oz. ground veal
6 oz. ground pork
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

FOR THE BALSAMELLA:
4 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup flour
2 cups hot milk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
Salt
12 sheets fresh pasta, 4'' x 5'' each
2 tbsp. grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
**
1. For the tomato sauce: Put tomatoes, onions, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard onions.

2. For the filling: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken livers (if using) and mash to a paste with the back of the spoon. Add chicken, veal, pork, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to a cutting board and chop until texture is very fine and meat begins to hold together. Transfer meat to a medium bowl, stir in nutmeg, and set aside.

3. For the balsamella: Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 1/2 minutes (do not allow to brown). Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir constantly until sauce is as thick as heavy cream, about 15 minutes, then add cheese. Add 1/2 cup of the sauce to the meat filling and set remaining sauce aside.

4. Preheat oven to 375°. Add a generous pinch of salt to a large pot of boiling water over high heat. Cook pasta several sheets at a time until tender, about 30 seconds, then dip briefly in a large bowl of cold water. Lay sheets out, not touching, on clean, damp kitchen towels and cover with another damp towel.

5. Working with one sheet of pasta at a time, spread 2-3 tbsp. meat filling along wide edge, then roll up, jelly-roll style. Repeat with remaining pasta and filling.

6. Spread a thin layer, about 1 cup, tomato sauce over bottom of a large baking dish. Lay cannelloni, seam side down, in a single layer on top of tomato sauce. Spread another thin layer of tomato sauce over cannelloni. Spoon remaining balsamella over tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and dot with butter. Bake until sauce is bubbling, 15-20 minutes, then brown under broiler for 3-4 minutes.