Cannelloni bolognese

Serves 4 as a starter
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The Independent Online

Bolognese sauce is one of the great comfort staples of Italian cooking. It's also got the advantage of being a master of disguise. You can use dried cannelloni shells for this – or I sometimes use fresh lasagne sheets and roll them up around the chilled sauce and just slightly overlap them.

4 cannelloni tubes or 4 sheets of fresh lasagne

For the meat sauce

1 small onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tsp chopped thyme or oregano leaves
2tbsp olive oil
400g lean coarsely minced beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tsp flour
2tsp tomato purée
100ml red wine
750ml hot beef stock

For the cheese sauce

50g butter
50g flour
500ml hot milk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
4tbls freshly grated parmesan
2-3tbsp double cream
1 egg yolk

First, make the meat sauce: heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan then season and fry the meat on a high heat, stirring every so often until it's lightly coloured. Drain the meat in a colander, then heat the rest of the oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic and thyme for 2-3 minutes. Add the meat, flour and tomato purée and stir well, then gradually add the wine and beef stock, bring to the boil, season and simmer for about an hour until the sauce has thickened and is just coating the meat. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour then gradually whisk in the hot milk to make a smooth sauce. Season and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes, giving it a good whisk every so often (a diffuser plate will come in useful here). Stir in the Parmesan and cream and re-season. Remove from the heat, leave to cool a little and stir in the egg yolk.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.

Stuff the cannelloni with the meat or roll into a lasagne sheet. Spoon a little of the sauce in the bottom of a large gratin dish or individuals then place the cannelloni in the dish, coat with the cheese sauce and bake for 15-25 minutes or until it has glazed nicely.