Recipe courtesy of Cooking Channel

Sausage and Fennel Stuffed Cannelloni with Kale Pesto Sauteed Acorn Squash

  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 5 hr
  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Cook: 4 hr
  • Yield: 20 servings
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Ingredients

Homemade Ricotta:

1/2 gallon milk, whole

1/2 quart buttermilk

Roasted Fennel Stock:

2 heads fennel, sliced on the bias

5 heads garlic, sliced lengthwise in half

3 carrots, sliced on the bias to 3/4 inch thickness

1.5 lbs. leeks, roughly chopped

2 lbs. shallots, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

1 box crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

1 bunch fresh parsley

10 black peppercorns

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pasta:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons water

Cannelloni Stuffing:

4 1/2 lbs. sausage

1 lemon, zested

2 Vidalia onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 cups Roasted Fennel Stock

2 cups ricotta

Homemade pasta

Coarse ground black pepper to taste

Kale Pesto:

2 bunches fresh kale

3-4 cloves peeled garlic

1-2 tablespoons salt

1/2-3/4 cup of parmesan, use as desired 

1/2-1 cup of olive oil

Pepper to taste

Sauteed Squash:

2 whole acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces

1-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Special equipment:
Cheesecloth
  1. Homemade Ricotta: Line a colander with cheesecloth. Fill a stainless steel saucepan with the buttermilk and whole milk. Set heat to high and keep the milk moving with a rubber spatula. When the milk begins to lightly steam but not boil, stop stirring, but continue to heat. Curds will begin to form, but as the milk heats up more they will separate. Turn off the heat at this point (never let the milk boil; a thermometer reading of 180 degrees F is perfect). Use a large metal slotted spoon (smallest slots possible; a mesh strainer works well too) to scoop the curds out of the heated milk. Place the curds in the strainer to drain. Tie the cheese cloth at both ends when the draining has almost stopped. Hang the cheesecloth from the faucet until the dripping stops completely. Refrigerate immediately. Roasted Garlic: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set garlic halves face-up on a baking sheet. Arrange fennel next to garlic halves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.Bake for 25 minutes. Set aside and let cool 20 minutes. For the garlic, pull out the individual cloves if you'd like, or just pat down the garlic heads with a paper towel (to absorb as much oil as possible). Reserve. Stock: Heat a large pan or wok on medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add carrots, white onion and leeks; saute until the leeks are sweated, the onions translucent and the carrots slightly darker in color. Add to an empty stock pot (try to keep as much oil as possible remaining in the pan). Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Saute shallots in the same pan until translucent. Reduce heat to medium and add fennel, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, mushrooms, and salt and cook for 3 - 5 minutes. Add water. Bring the stock to a boil, lower heat to simmer and leave on stove top for 2 hours. Skim any oil and impurities that rise to the top. Strain the stock into another empty stockpot. Add parsley, set back on the stove and simmer for another hour, until the water has reduced an inch or two. Let sit, then strain twice through a fine mesh strainer. Salt the stock lightly, if you'd like a saltier broth. Makes 3-4 quarts of strong stock, which can be thinned with water if more is needed. Pasta: Mound flour on a work surface, making a well in the center. Add eggs, salt and 2 tablespoons water to well. With a fork, gently beat eggs and water until combined. Stir in enough flour to form a paste, never opening the outer wall of the well. Knead remaining flour into mixture with your hands to form dough. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, letting it stand for 1 hour. We use a standalone mixer with a pasta-making attachment to roll out the pasta. Any standard pasta-rolling recipe will do. The pasta must be rolled out to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cannelloni Stuffing: Cook sausage until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and chop roughly. Saute fennel and onion in a medium saucepan with olive oil until both are softened and slightly caramelized. Add freshly minced garlic to this mixture and set in a mixing bowl to cool. Zest one lemon and add to the mixing bowl. When sausage and fennel have cooled, mix together, slowly working in the ricotta until a blended paste forms. Set in refrigerator to cool. Bake Pasta: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out pasta and cut into 6 x 4-inch-wide sections. Place about two fingers' worth of filling into the middle of the pasta and roll into a tube. Align cannelloni on a greased cookie sheet with about 1/2 inch space between them, cover with reserved Roasted Fennel Stock (recipe above) and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. NOTE: Cannelloni does not need to be submerged in the liquid, just partially covered.
  2. Kale Pesto: Flash-blanch kale (you want it to retain its bright green color). Toss peeled garlic, blanched kale, salt, parmesan and 1/4 cup olive oil in a food processor and blend. Continue to add olive oil as machine runs to achieve desired consistency. Toss in pepper to taste and blend again. Sauteed Squash: Get a large saute pan hot over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil.
  3. Series: Kitchen Conspirators Episode: Brooklyn Cuisine (Ep. 4: Part 4)

Cook’s Note

You can spice this dish up by adding almost any fresh herb, garlic, etc. We kept ours simple as we already had a lot of flavors going on in the entree plate.

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