Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Carmela Soprano's Manicotti with Ricotta Filling / Filling for Large Shells

In food, as in life, one thing often leads to another.
Everything is connected.
We are stardust.
Yeah, well, so the song says...

Last week I posted about Ma's Stuffed Shells.
I mentioned that you're supposed to put something in the jumbo shells, just like you would with the manicotti tubes.

Got some e mails...
"Can I put the same cheese stuff in the manicotti tubes?"
There aren't any manicotti police checking out what's in your tubes.

If you want a little variety in your stuffed pasta, there's a recipe for Manicotti  in 
Janice's Sunday Dinner chapter of Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook.

According to Janice, if you want to sound authentic, call it Manicott'.
Like I said, there aren't any manicotti police checking out what you're saying.
And I don't think Janice will drop by.

Janice includes a recipe for the tubes, which she calls crepes.
I find that confusing.
I call them tubes.
You could make the tubes, but why bother?
And I don't think Janice made the crepes, either.

Anyway, the crepes can be made 2 days in advance of filling them.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Or you can just buy a box of manicotti tubes and do this:
In a large pot place
4 quarts water
Over high heat bring the water to a boil.
salt to taste
225 grams manicotti tubes
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked but slightly chewy.
Drain the tubes and rinse with cold water.
Stuff the tubes (it's easier to cram a bit in from each end). 
Place the tubes in the prepared 13x9x2 inch baking pan.
Cover with sauce, cheese and bake.

Yes, you can also prepare stuffed manicotti in advance and freeze.
If you're in a cooking frenzy, make extra for another dinner.


For Tubes

In a bowl combine
1 Cup flour
1 Cup water
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat until smooth.
Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Heat a 6-inch nonstick pan over medium heat.
Brush lightly with oil.

Grip the handle because you are going to tilt it so the batter will cover the pan.

Spoon in about 1/3 cup batter
Do the tilting to cover the pan and pour any excess batter back into the bowl.
Cook the crepe for 1 minute.
With your fingers, flip the crepe over.
Cook for 1 minute.
Place the cooked crepe on a plate.
Cover with a piece of waxed paper.
Repeat with the remaining batter and stack the crepes.
Yes, each crepe gets a piece of waxed paper. 

For Filling

In a large bowl combine
2 pounds ricotta
4 ounces mozzarella, chopped or shredded
1 large egg
1/2 Cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tablespoon dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Have on hand
Marinara Sauce (a double recipe wouldn't hurt)

Preheat oven 350º

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.
Place 1/4 Cup of the filling lengthwise down the center of a crepe.
Roll it up and place it seam side down in the baking pan.
Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling, placing them close together.
Spoon the remaining sauce over the tubes.
Sprinkle with
1/2 Cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until the Manicotti is heated through.
Serve hot.

Would I make Manicotti again?
Sure, with store bought tubes.
It's an old family favorite.
And I hope it becomes a favourite of yours, too. 

One recipe down.  Eighty-two more to go.  

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