Note: The ragu must be made the day before assembling the dish.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 pound ground pork, ground at the fattest grind
- 1/2 pound sweet sausage, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
- 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- Several gratings nutmeg
- 3 cans tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 can Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand, with juices
- 1 recipe basic pasta dough, recipe follows
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves cut into chiffonade
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons butter
In a 6-quart saucepan, heat the oil until smoking and add the onion. Cook 9 to 11 minutes, until soft and golden brown. Add the ground pork, the sausage, and the pancetta and cook until beyond the gray, when the meat starts to brown in its own fat, about 30 minutes over medium heat. Add the nutmeg and the tomato paste and cook until deep brownish red, about 20 minutes, then add the red wine and the canned tomatoes and cook over low heat for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and cool. Remove the fat that has floated to the top and discard. This ragu may be refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 6 months.
Divide the pasta dough into 2 equal portions and roll each to the thinnest setting on a pasta rolling machine. Cut each rolled-out sheets into 5-inch squares.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and set up an ice bath with 3 cups of ice and 4 cups of water in a bowl next to the stove. Cook the pasta squares until just al dente, about 2 minutes, and remove to the ice bath to refresh. Remove each square individually, drain and set onto kitchen towels.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Mix 3 cups of the ragu with the ricotta and add 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and the basil. Lay the pasta squares out, place 3 tablespoons of ragu mixture into each one, and roll up like a cigar. Butter a 10 by 14-inch glass cake pan and lay the cannelloni next to each other in 2 rows. Sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano, dot with butter and place in oven to bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until light golden brown on top. Allow to rest 10 minutes and serve.
Basic Pasta Dough:
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and the olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.
As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board, and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Roll or shape as desired.