This is a spectacular baked pasta dish and whilst it’s not something you might whip up on a weeknight, it’s definitely worth the effort for a special meal or if you’re entertaining on the weekend. For me this meal started out in two phases and I think when it’s tackled this way it’s much easier. I was recently given a copy of the new Guillaume Brahimi cook book, Food for Friends. Guillaume is the chef owner of Guillaume at Bennelong restaurant at the Opera House in Sydney and his new cook book is visually spectacular. The recipe that immediately grabbed me was his Wagyu beef daube, made using beef cheeks. I had some friends coming over that weekend so duly ordered the Wagyu beef cheeks and went about the business of braising them which is not at all difficult, just time intensive. The result was beautifully tender meat in a rich and complex sauce. I took all the prep photos (which you can see below) but in the flurry of plating and serving, forgot to take a picture of the finished dish, darn! Luckily I’d made more beef cheeks than I required and whilst looking through a recent addition of Donna Hay Magazine this beef cheek and taleggio cannelloni caught my eye. The timing was perfect – I had the beef cheeks already braised so all that was really required was a white sauce and an assembly job. Never have leftovers been put to such good use!
Ingredients – Serves 4
Braised Beef Cheeks Adapted from Guillaume Brahimi’s, Food for Friends
(Serves 4 as a main course with enough leftovers for the cannelloni )
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 x 350g Wagyu beef cheeks, sinew removed
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 head of garlic, skin left on and cut in half
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cups red wine
2 cups best quality beef stock
Cannelloni & Taleggio Sauce- Serves 4 Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
250g store bought fresh cannelloni sheets
60g unsalted butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 cups milk
180g taleggio with no rind, chopped
1 cup finely grated parmesan
1 cup of reserved sauce from the braised beef cheeks
To make the beef cheeks, heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat. When hot add the beef cheeks and seal for a few minutes on each side until brown all over. Transfer to a casserole dish or dutch oven and add all the vegetables and herbs.
Bring the wine to a boil in a large saucepan, then pour into the casserole over the beef cheeks and vegetables. Add as much beef stock as required to cover the beef and vegetables. Leave to cool. Cover the casserole and place in the fridge to marinate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 160C. Place the casserole on the stove and bring the contents to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and cover with some dampened baking paper and the lid; place in the oven and cook the beef cheeks for 3 hours. Add the brandy and cook for a further 1-2 hours or until the beef cheeks are very soft. Carefully remove the beef cheeks and set aside. Strain the sauce and discard the vegetables and herbs. If the sauce is too thick add a little more beef stock or boiling water and if it’s too thin place it one the stove and simmer it briskly until it’s reduced. At this stage I served the beef cheeks with mashed potatoes with some sauce poured over the top, as a main meal for four. I then had enough left overs to proceed with the cannelloni recipe below. You could however make the beef cheeks just for the cannelloni and make 2 batches.
To make the taleggio sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When melted add the flour and whisk for a couple of minutes until a paste forms.. Gradually add the milk and whisk to combine. Bring to the boil and cook, whisking constantly for 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the taleggio, 1/2 cup of parmesan, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cover and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Using two forks shred the beef. Spread some of the beef filling in the centre of each cannelloni sheet and roll to enclose. Pour half the reserved sauce into a baking dish that will hold the cannelloni snugly in a single layer.
Top with the cannelloni and pour over the remaining cooking sauce. Spoon over the rest of the taleggio sauce and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until melted and golden.