** ~~Manicotti with Pancetta Tomato Sauce~~ **

Hello Guys

4 years ago this recipe was introduced to my be a good friend Karla on Facebook - OMG you have to taste this it is worth the extra effort making the pasta etc... Having the sauce simmer for a long time and bringing all that is good about Italy together. This recipe came from a well known American Italian Peter Francis Battaglia - I am so grateful to be in his group and he does have wonderful recipes... So get the sleeves up, buy the ingredients and have a wonderful weekend! Freezes beautifully too.

Here is the link to the recipe - wonderful instructions and tips too

Keine Fotobeschreibung verfügbar.

Manicotti with Pancetta Tomato Sauce

1 cup finely diced pancetta (please do not substitute with smoked bacon or anything it has to be pancetta if you can't get it to use salt pork)

2 onions finely diced

freshly ground pepper

splash of white wine

2 cans San Marzano Tomatoes


1 1/2 cups flour
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch of salt
2 cups milk

1/2 lb diced mozzarella
2 tsp finely chopped parsley
1 beaten egg
1 cup pecorino, freshly grated
freshly ground pepper

Making the Sauce

Make the sauce first.  You can make your favorite or usual sauce, but for the love of all that is good in the world, don’t use jarred sauce. You can make it yourself.
I opened the fridge and took a nice piece of Pancetta. Pancetta is an Italian form of bacon, cured, but not smoked.  You cannot use smoked bacon in a recipe that calls for pancetta.  The flavor is not the same and will alter the end result.
If Pancetta is unavailable, don’t panic.  Every supermarket is carrying it now, but, if you happen to live in an area where it is unavailable, use salt pork.  Dice about 1 cup of the pancetta and sauté in a large pot with some fruity olive oil. Let it sizzle for about 8 minutes. Add 1 large or 2 small onions, finely diced. Let this simmer in the oil for about 20 minutes so that the onions sweeten and meld with the pancetta flavor. This is a crucial step in creating this particular sauce. If you are using salt pork – after the onions have started cooking for about 5 minutes — add a splash of wine and a good grinding of black pepper. This will make the salt port take on the flavors of pancetta. It works.
Now add two cans of San Marzano good tomatoes that you have crushed with your hands. Add a couple of torn basil leaves, taste for seasoning, and let this cook for at least 1 hour. You will be happy with the concentrated flavor the onions and pancetta give the sauce.Keine Fotobeschreibung verfügbar.

Making the Crepes
OK, let’s start making the crepes. Sift 1 1/2 cups flour into a bowl. Add 3 well-beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon olive oil, a pinch of salt, 2 cups of milk. Somehow this always changes, so be sure it has the consistency of a loose pancake batter, which hovers between thin and not so thin.
Rub a non-stick small omelet pan with olive oil. Place it over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Now ladle a thin layer of the crepe batter into the pan, smoothing it out with the bottom of the ladle.  It should be thin, but not transparent. Cook for 2 minutes on each side and continue making the crepes until the batter is used. This should yield about 20 crepes. Stack them on a place and move to one side. Let cool for about 1/2 hour.
Manicotti Filling
In a large bowl add one-half pound small diced mozzarella, 2 teaspoons freshly minced flat-leaf parsley, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup pecorino romano, lots of fresh ground black pepper, One-and-one-half pounds good ricotta. Polly-O is a good supermarket brand, but, if possible get fresh ricotta from an Italian Store or Salumeria. It makes for a heavenly manicotti. Fresh ricotta just can’t be beaten.
Preparing the Manicotti
Add some sauce to the bottom of a baking pan.  Take a crepe and put about 3 tablespoons of the filling down the center. Roll it up and place into pan. Do not stack them on top of each other. One layer only.
Just a suggestion (not really), use Polly-O whole milk mozzarella. Fresh has too much liquid and it makes the filling watery. Top the finished tray with sauce and add some grated pecorino.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cover the tray with foil and bake for 1 hour.  Let the manicotti sit for a good 5-10 minutes before serving.  The foil prevents the heat from drying the manicotti and scorching the top.  Too much cooking and the tomato gets bitter. When serving, figure at least 2 manicotti per person, so make enough. This is an easy recipe to double.
You can even roll and stuff them, but you must cook them less than 24 hours after you they are stuffed. Just tightly cover and refrigerate. Serve with a meat ball or sausage – or not.

Peter Francis Battglia
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