Manicotti (with Béarnaise)

Make shift double boiler for béarnaise.

I have a vocal friend who gets mildly obsessed with certain foods…like coconut oil popcorn.  Last weekend, he spent about 20 minutes explaining to his girlfriend and I, that in the 80s, popcorn was made with coconut oil.  Of course these days, it’s made with canola oil, which is far less superior than coconut oil.  We told him how easy it was to make stove top popcorn and he immediately went to the store.  We made a huge cauldron full, and then proceeded to chow down.  It was mighty good popcorn and my pal was filled with glee (and covered in oil, as coconut oil is particularly greasy…).

 

 

Most recently, he has been obsessed with manicotti served with béarnaise.  I have never heard of such a thing, and a quick google search lead me to know recipe either.  That doesn’t mean that this heart attack in a tube can’t be made!  I’m always up for a cooking challenge, so we all met last night to make “The Epic Dinner.”    I truly had no idea how I was going to incorporate this sauce onto manicotti because béarnaise is not meant to be used at high heat.  My solution to the problem was to make another fatty sauce, béchamel, to cover the noodles while they were in the oven and top it off with more fat from the béarnaise when they came out.

Manicotti with Bechamel

Ingredients:

For the manicotti:

1 package of manicotti tubes

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 pound Italian seasoned sausage

salt and pepper to taste

more parmesan cheese

For the béchamel:

4 tablespoons butter

4-6 tablespoons flour

2 cup whole milk, or cream

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta for four minutes.  Drain and hold.

2. Cook sausage in pan.  Mix remaining filling ingredients together with sausage.

3. To make the béchamel, melt butter in a pan.  Add flour in batches, until the flour and butter combine and look like wet sand in the bottom of the pot.  Whisk milk or cream into butter and flour.  Whisk until desired thickness is achieved.  The longer it sits on the heat, the more thick it gets.  If it gets too thick, just add a splash more milk.

4.  Stuff par-cooked manicotti tubes with filling.  Spread béchamel sauce on the bottom of an oven safe pan and then place the stuffed noodles in the bottom.  Spread more bechamel over the top of the noodles and then sprinkle generous handfuls of parmesan cheese over the top.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until the noodles and stuffing are warmed all the way through.  Take the foil off and let the manicotti cook uncovered until the cheese on top browns.

5.  Serve with or without béarnaise sauce, your call!  Michael Ruhlman is a reliable source and he has a really easy recipe for béarnaise on his blog.

 

 

I didn’t strongly like or dislike manicotti with béarnaise, but I get the the stamp of approval from my friend, who ate roughly 10 stuffed tubes and couldn’t stop talking about how good they were.  I’ll take that.  I also made some spinach manicotti and I like those as well.  They weren’t as heavy as the ones with the pork in them.  The acid in the béarnaise did cut nicely though the heavy creaminess of the manicotti filling and béchamel sauce.  It may be excessive to have two fat-based sauces on manicotti.  Try it out, and tell me what you think!

 

Spinach manicotti

 

Be well & happy eating!

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