For the love of slow cooking!
I don’t often get long periods of time to cook big meals, but when I do I really enjoy it. I’m all for quick and easy meals - they form a large part of what I eat - but there’s something great about spending the whole day or afternoon cooking something really special. This time consuming style of cooking will sound really mad to some people, but I love it when you are cooked for by someone else and they go to town on it. With this style of cooking you can achieve things that you could never do in a short space of time - cooking things for 5 or even 10 hours can have the most incredible results that are definitely worth the wait. On the plus side, most of these processes are fairly low maintenance, and once on can be left alone for a long time.
This style of cooking also lends itself to cheap, alternative cuts of meat. In this case I have used beef shin, which is unbelievably underused. As in most cases, the cheaper cuts of meat hold way more flavour than the more expensive ones, all they need is to be cooked with a little care and time until mouthwateringly tender. The shin that I bought for this recipe cost me five pounds for a kilo - that’s less than one fillet steak would be! Slow cooking meat like shown in this recipe is also a method that is excellent for loads of different things - stews, ragu sauces, ravioli fillings etc. You can even make amazing chilli or shepherds pie using flaked slow cooked meat. When cooking meat in this way, I often make more than I need and have a lovely intense stew for dinner the next night.
The cannelloni in this recipe is not typical to how it is usually made, with a creamy cheese sauce and baked in the oven. Making it this way makes it much lighter and more of a summer dish, and the combination of the beef with the mushrooms, anchovies and beans really works.
For the slow cooked beef:
500g beef shin, cut into a few large pieces
1 litre good beef or veal stock
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
Small handful of thyme sprigs
3 carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 onions, finely chopped
Large glass red wine
2 anchovy fillets
For the fresh pasta:
200g Italian 00 flour
2 medium eggs
For the cannelloni filling:
10g dried girolle mushrooms
2 tbsp parley leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp pecorino cheese
For the sauce:
10g dried girolle mushrooms
300g broad beans, podded and shelled
2 anchovy fillets, very finely chopped
2 knobs of butter
First of all get the beef going. Put the stock in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Heat up a little olive oil in a separate large saucepan on a medium to high heat. Season the meat well and brown well on all sides until well coloured, before removing and setting aside. Turn down the heat a little and add a little more olive oil if needed before adding the onion, garlic, thyme and rosemary. Cook until softened before adding the carrots, parsnips, anchovies and bay leaf. After a couple more minutes, turn the heat up slightly and add the wine, letting it bubble and reduce slightly. Now add the meat back to the saucepan and cover with the hot stock. Season well and bring to a simmer before turn right down and cooking with the lid on for about 5 hours, or until the meat falls to pieces.
Meanwhile make the pasta. Put the flour, eggs and a good pinch of salt in a food processor, and blitz until the mix looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Tip everything out onto a floured surface and knead together until the dough has an elastic texture but is not sticky. Knead in a little flour if necessary. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for half an hour to rest.
After half an hour, remove the pasta dough from the fridge. Using your pasta machine, roll the dough until it goes through the thinnest setting. Cut the thin sheet of pasta into 4 inch pieces (allowing 2 per person), flour each side well and put in the fridge until needed later. Spare dough can be saved for another occasion.
Now prepare the rest of the filling for the cannelloni. Put the dried mushrooms (for the sauce and filling) in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for half an hour before removing the mushrooms from the water, and finely chopping the half being used for the filling. Leave the other half whole and set aside for the sauce. Keep the soaking liquid to use in risottos, soups etc. Combine the chopped mushrooms with the grated pecorino and chopped parsley in a medium bowl and put aside.
Use any more time while to meat is cooking to prepare the other ingredients for the sauce.
When the meat is really tender, gently remove it from the broth and shred finely. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then add to the bowl of other filling ingredients. Combine well, adding a couple of tablespoons of the broth liquid and seasoning to taste.
Fill a medium saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil. When the water is bubbling, add the pasta sheets and cook for 1 minute. Once cooked, remove the pasta and lay each piece on an individual piece of greaseproof paper that is a little bit bigger than the pasta. Carefully add a line of the cannelloni filling to one end of the pasta, leaving a lip of about 2cm. Using the greaseproof paper, ease the pasta around the filling to create a filled tube. Try and get it so that the seal is on the bottom of each tube. Gently move all of the tubes onto one piece of greaseproof paper (small enough to sit in a steamer) and set aside until ready to cook.
For the sauce, strain 4-5 ladles of the broth liquid into a small saucepan and heat on a medium heat until boiling. Add the anchovies and mix well, then reduce the liquid by half until the flavours have intensified.
Meanwhile, pour a little water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. When the water is boiling, put the rolled cannelloni into a steamer and place on top of the boiling water for 2 minutes. At the same time, add the broad beans, girolles and butter to the saucepan with the sauce in it before mixing well, tasting and seasoning.
When the cannelloni has cooked, arrange two on each plate and carefully spoon some of the finished sauce around them. Finish by scattering some baby rocket and a pinch of pecorino on top. A very time consuming process, but well worth the wait!