20 January 2010

Casserole Night - Canalones A La Catalana

I was recently browsing the cookbook aisle at the local bookstore and came across a book called Culinaria - Spain on the clearance table. I love Spain and miss seeing our 'third daughter', Maria. She lives with her husband outside of Barcelona and is a proud little Catalan. When we have visited Maria and Ruben, she has been so proud to show us her homeland and share the cuisine of Cataluna! We have sampled her uncle's sausages and wine, had seafood dishes made by her mother Rosa, slurped thick hot chocolate at a cafe on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, and knoshed her wonderfully simple tomato bread (pa amb tomaquet). When I saw this cookbook, I thought it would be wonderful to learn some more about Spain and its different regional cuisines.
Tonight, Silent Bob and I were in the mood for a warm, stick-to-your-ribs casserole, so I opened Culinaria - Spain and made this wonderful meaty, creamy, pasta dish - Canalones A La Catalana. It was a messy affair from the beginning. I squished the meats together before throwing them on the hot oil, got my fingers gooey by hand stuffing the canneloni (tried the pastry bag route and found it awkward), and licked my fingers after nestling the filled pasta tubes into the creamy sauce - my goodness, what yumminess! Certainly not diet material! This is a meal for the end of a strenuous day - high calories, but your previous activity will balance them out (I know, I know! I'm rationalizing! Tough! Take it or leave it!). We had the canelones with a simple bowl of steamed broccoli - simple and satisfying.

I hope you enjoy a little taste of Cataluna! I'm sure I'll share more Spanish recipes in future posts, but this is a worthy starting point for a cold winter evening! Enjoy!

Note: This is not the most photogenic of dishes, but don't be put off by my poor photographic skills. They truly are tasty... so tasty that I plan to have one for breakfast, decadent old me!

Above: Dinner and Breakfast the Next Day

Canalones A La Catalana - printer friendly
Canalones A La Catalana

¼ c. olive oil
1 leek, washed and white section thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2½ c. ground beef and ground pork, mixed together (I used 1 lb. of very lean ground beef and 1/4 lb. ground pork)
¾ c. chicken livers, finely chopped (7 oz.)
1 boneless chicken breast, chopped into small cubes
3 tbsp. breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
3 ½ tbsp butter
½ c. flour
2 c. milk
2 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
pinch of nutmeg
1 dozen cannelloni, cooked al denté
1 c. grated cheese (Monterey Jack and mild Cheddar blend)

Preheat the oven to 390º F and butter a casserole dish.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the meats, liver, onions and leek. Toss the ingredients until the meats are browned and the onions and leeks are wilted.

Spoon off some of the fat and add the breadcrumbs, salt, and plenty of black pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Bring a large pasta pot of water to a boil and cook the cannelloni until al denté – about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse, and let rest in cool water.

Prepare the cream sauce in a large saucepan. Melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux.

Add the salt and pepper, thyme, parsley, and nutmeg.

Drain the cannelloni and stuff with the meat mixture. Lay them in the casserole dish and top with most of the cream sauce.

Sprinkle the top with the grated cheese and then drizzle the last of the sauce over the top.

Garnish with more chopped parsley and more black pepper and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and golden.

Serves: 4

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