This is a delicious party dish from Croatia where the cooking has lots of Italian influences. Most veal these days is ethical rose veal (even in Italy, where they’re adamant it’s the traditional production methods) so don’t write off veal too quickly … it’s definitely worth trying.
Wine Suggestion: definitely drink a Croatian white if you can find one but failing that try a white from Eastern Italy, like a good Verdicchio or Pecorino.
Veal Cannelloni – serves 6
- 250g dried cannelloni tubes
- 300ml tomato sauce (see recipe below)
For the filling:
- 650g veal mince
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 45ml olive oil
- 150ml dry white wine
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp salt
- 15 turns black pepper
- 300g fresh spinach, wilted over a medium heat, drained and chopped
- 15 rasps of nutmeg
- 50g Parmesan cheese, grated
For the béchamel sauce:
- 75g butter
- 125g plain flour
- 1 litre full-fat milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 50g Parmesan/Pecorino
Make the filling by combining the veal, onion and garlic in a food processor and pulsing briefly to make a coarse paste.
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the veal and cook until browned. Add the white wine, tomato puree, salt and pepper and keep cooking, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, nutmeg & Parmesan.
Next make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the flour to make a roux. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps. Return to the pan, add the bay leaf and stir until thickened. Add half the Parmesan/Pecorino and set aside.
Heat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4.
Spoon a ladle of the béchamel over the base of a large greased rectangular baking dish. Spoon some of the veal into each of the cannelloni tubes (use both ends of a teaspoon to do this).
Arrange the filled tubes in a single layer in the dish and pour the tomato sauce over. Cover with the remaining béchamel, top with the remaining cheese and bake for about 40 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Venice to Istanbul, Penguin 2015.)