Marryl’s Chicken Cannelloni

It was eleven years ago that I first tasted chicken cannelloni. My boss then brought me to this quaint little restaurant in Cebu City. She insisted I try their chicken cannelloni. I’ve never heard this pasta dish before.

It was just delicious! It was really heaven on a plate! No, seriously! I told myself it will be my favorite italian dish of all time. Since then I’ve meant to make this at home.

If you’re not familiar with this kind of pasta, it’s a tube pasta stuffed with different kinds of filling. The more popular ones are ricotta cheese, vegetables and meat.

After eleven long years (haha! Yes, it took me this long to finally bring myself to make this dish. Slow woman, wink * wink*) I’ve finally made my recipe for this pasta dish. Yes, my very own! I’ve incorporated some recipes from those I’ve tried and came up with my version. This cannelloni dish is stuffed with chicken and topped with not just one but two sauces: Bechamel and Filippino Bolognese sauce. I haven’t really thought of a perfect name for this dish yet. For now, I hope you guys won’t mind if I call it Marryl’s Chicken Cannelloni (any suggestions, please?).

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1/2 kilo or about a pound of chicken breast, boiled and minced (set aside the chicken broth for the béchamel sauce)
  • a cup of chopped sweet ham or cooked ham. You may also use a small can of luncheon meat,  grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • one onion, chopped
  • small can of liver spread
  • three tablespoons of olive oil
Ingredients for the Filipino Bolognese Sauce
  • 1/4 kilo or half a pound of ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500 grams sweet-style Spaghetti sauce. If you can’t find them, just add some sugar when you simmer the sauce.
Ingredients for the Bechamel Sauce
  • 2 small cans (8 oz) of evaporated milk
  • 100 grams or 3 1/2 oz butter
  • 1 cup grated Quickmelt or cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Filipino Bolognese sauce
In a large skillet, pour olive oil and sauté onions. Add a pinch of salt to let them sweat. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes.

Add the ground beef and sauté until the meat is cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the spaghetti sauce and let it simmer for about 30-45 minutes. If you can’t find Del Monte Sweet Style Spaghetti sauce, add 3-4 tablespoons of sugar. Filipino Bolognese Sauce is really sweet compared to italian sauces. Trust me, it’s really good. Season with salt and pepper. Add some chopped fresh basil leaves. Let cool and set aside.

Note: this sauce is an alternative to your usual Bolognese. Try it with your spaghetti and let me know what you think.

Meantime, cook cannelloni shells according to package instructions. My baking dish is not that big so I didn’t cook all the shells in the package.

Drain over cold running water to keep them from sticking together.

To make the Bechamel sauce, melt butter over medium heat. Saute the onions until they’re transparent.  Add the flour and stir vigorously using a wooden spoon to make a paste. Slowly add in the chicken broth making sure the liquid is incorporated to the paste. Begin to add half of the milk. Switch to a wire whisk and add in the other half of the milk all at once whisking briskly. Lower heat and add the grated cheese. Simmer for about 7-10 minutes whisking from time to time. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper.

Cover plastic wrap over the sauce to keep skin from forming. To keep it warm, place sauce in a container and place in a pan with warm water.

To make the chicken filling, sauté onions and garlic. Add in the cooked ham or grated luncheon meat and liver spread. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Pour some of the béchamel sauce to the chicken filling. You can put in 1/4 to almost half of the sauce but not runny. This will be the filling. Set aside remaining béchamel sauce for topping.

To Assemble:

I greased a baking dish with a little olive oil. Pour some of the Filipino Bolognese Sauce to cover the bottom. Stuff the cannelloni shells with the chicken filling. Stuffing the cannelloni tubes may take a bit of time if you spoon it. It’s easier and faster if you use an icing bag with a large nozzle. Don’t stuff too much filling in the tubes.

Arrange the filled cannelloni shells in the baking dish like so. I put a bit of space between the shells just enough so there will be Bolognese sauce in between the shells.

Pour all the Filipino Bolognese sauce on top, making sure there’s sauce in between the shells. I later found out that this sauce make the dish really good. It compliments well with the bechamel and the stuffed pasta. So the next time I make cannelloni I will probably put more of this Filipino Bolognese sauce or probably make another filing out of this sauce – Beef Cannelloni, hmmmm..

Top with the béchamel sauce.

and grated mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 350° F (180 C) for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Here’s my very first Chicken cannelloni…it looks so good!

It’s a bit complicated than lasagna since you have to stuff the shells. But the work is all worth it. If you want to impress your family and friends with your cooking skills, try this really delicious pasta dish. Let me know how it came out.


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