Canelones de Carne


I can’t believe that in less than one month it will be Spring. I am looking forward to it. This past weekend has been great, the weather was amazing in Maryland. I am just hoping not to get more snow…

Today I made Canelones de Carne, which translates to Meat Cannelloni. Of course, this is another one of my grandma’s top recipes. I don’t know how she does it, but these canelones are out of this world. (If you are not a meat lover, check out the spinach and mushrooms canelones that I previously posted on this blog.)

It’s traditional in Spain to eat these canelones both the day after Christmas, and for Kings’s Day, January 6th. I realize it is neither of these days, but after traveling recently to Spain, these were definitely on my mind. Plus, you can, of course, serve these any day of the year.

The traditional recipe calls for veal brain. For me, that is totally optional! I appreciate using all parts of the animal, but I would understand if you didn’t want to use it. It is also probably difficult to find. My grandma uses it because its extremely flavorful. But as I said, it’s not required.

For the dough, I used the classic canelones that we typically purchase in Spain. If you can’t find that, you could use a lasagna pasta. (Boil the lasagna pasta and then cut it the size of the canelones. Each canelon is a square, approximately 4 inches x 4 inches.

el pavo

Ingredients for 4 servings:

For the filling:

  • 7 oz ground veal (200g)
  • 7 oz ground pork (200g)
  • chicken breast or a chicken leg (cut it into pieces)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (grated or chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper- chopped
  • 1 veal brain (optional!)
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1 box of 20 canelones
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Butter

For the white sauce/bechamel sauce: 

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • nutmeg

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a medium pan and place on low heat.  The bottom of the pan should be entirely coated with butter. Once it’s melted, add 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.  Stir constantly until the flour is brown. Add 2 cups of milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens This is a béchamel sauce. If it looks too thick, add a little bit of milk.  Add  1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg or just a small pinch (nutmeg has a lot of flavor!)


For the canelones:

Cook the canelones pasta (or similar pasta) according to the recipe.

For the filling:

In a big pan, mix all the ingredients EXCEPT for the veal and the cognac, and set the heat to low. Stir occasionally, the mixture has to be juicy, otherwise add a little bit of water.  The mixture should be on low heat for about 1 hour.

If you are using the veal brain, boil it for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot.

After cooking the main mixture for 35 to 45 minutes, you can add the veal brain into the pan and this also a good time to add the cognac. By now, the mixture has to be juicy. If its not, add a little bit of water (about 1/4 cup).

Place the mixture into the food processor and blend it to a fine consistency. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender or another substitute.

Stuff the mixture in the middle of the canelone dough.

Roll up all of the canelones. Pour a little bit of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish and then add the canelones in a line (or two lines depending on the size of your baking sheet.) Add only one layer. The canelones can be touching one another,but make sure they are not overlapping. Add some of the white sauce, the grated cheese, and small pats of butter on top.


Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 F, and then broil it for 2 minutes to brown the cheese.

Ready to serve!

Bon profit!

(Tip: I always make a little more sauce then I probably need.  I add some of the sauce to the plate first and I also fill an extra gravy boat so people can add more if they want. It’s delicious! It’s also great to serve good bread for dipping in the sauce.)

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