Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Homemade Manicotti with Ricotta Cheese

Best thing ever. Chako gives this dinner 11 stars...or "the best thing I've ever put in my mouth." 

I was fearful of trying manicotti from scratch, I thought it would be really challenging and a big mess and be hard and chewy. Not the case. It's super easy, not super time consuming and comes out delicious. This recipe is from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, a big favorite in my kitchen, and it's by Craig Claiborne & Pierre Franey, from their June 12, 1977 "Food: The Crepe Cult".

What makes this manicotti so special is that the manicotti is not made out of pasta, like lasagna, the way you often get it in Italian-American restaurants, this manicotti is made out of Parmesan-flecked crepes.  HEAVEN!!!

Try it! It's easy. The recipe is below, I halved the recipe to make for just Chako and I, but we easily would've eaten the whole 4 servings...probably for the best I made the smaller amount....

You'll mix together ricotta (I used the homemade, definitely makes a difference...), egg yolks, nutmeg, parmesan, black pepper, and salt.

Then you'll make your crepes, like making pancakes...but with parmesan cheese.

Wrap the ricotta in the crepes, and put in an baking dish with tomato sauce (homemade..yea!!!). Spoon more sauce on top! More parm!! You get something that looks like this...

Bake it!! YEAAAAA!!! Sooo goood! End up with...

Manicotti with Ricotta Cheese
You'll need...
2 cups ricotta
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup plus 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
Parmesan Cheese Crepes (recipe follows)
2 cups tomato sauce (homemade is best! my recipe to will be posted soon)
2 tbsp butter, melted

Heat the over to 400 degrees.
Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, parsley, salt to taste, nutmeg, 1 cup Parmesan, and pepper to taste and blend well.
Spoon equal portions of filling down the middle of each crepe and roll it up.
Spoon about 3 tbsp of sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Place the rolled up crepes, seams down in the dish. 
Spoon the remaining sauce over the crepes, sprinkle with the remaining parmesan, then pour the melted butter over all!
Bake until heated through, about 20 mins.

Parmesan Cheese Crepes
You'll need...
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk (I actually used 2%....just saying)
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Butter for the crepe pan

Scoop the flour into a bowl and add the egg and salt. Add milk while whisking. Add the melted butter and cheese. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Heat an 8-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Butter the baking surface. Pour about 1/4 cup of the crepe batter into the pan and spread over the base. Cook until browned, flip and cook til the other side is browned. Repeat with remaining batter. 

Don't stack the crepes! They are kinda sticky and delicate. I made them as I was going so they went directly into the baking dish.


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