Read in Catalan

Whilst many people in the UK or US will automatically associate pasta with Italy, it's spread around the Mediterranean. Today, in El Nacional's chef, Oscar Manresa, of Barcelona's famous Casa Leopoldo, shows us how to make a classic Catalan take on cannelloni (or "canelons", as they're known here), a traditional dish for the Christmas season, especially Boxing Day.

If you can find premade cannelloni tubes (like Oscar uses in the video above), that's great, otherwise you can use normal lasagna sheets and wrap them up yourself. In either case, you need to precook it until it's al dente. And where we mention vi ranci, that's literally "rancid wine". Don't worry, it tastes better than the name makes it sound - it's a traditional Catalan oxidised wine. You could substitute something like a sherry.

Ingredients for the canelons filling:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • clove of garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • rosemary branch
  • vi ranci - 100ml / 3.5 floz

Ingredients for the bechamel sauce:

  • plain flour - 50g / 2oz
  • butter - 50g / 2oz
  • milk - 700ml / 24floz
  • single cream - 300ml / 10floz
  • salt - pinch
  • black pepper - pinch
  • grated nutmeg - pinch


  1. Finely slice the onion and garlic and quarter the tomatoes
  2. Dice up the chicken, leaving the bones in
  3. Add a splash of oil to a saucepan and heat it to medium-high
  4. Add the chicken and start to brown it
  5. Add the onion, tomato, rosemary and garlic and keep cooking and stirring until it browns like in the video
  6. Transfer it onto a baking tray with a splash of water and roast in an oven (180ºC / 360ºF) until the chicken is cooked through
  7. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a clean saucepan
  8. Add the flour and whisk until you create a roux (a smooth paste)
  9. Add the milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg and whisk well to combine, heating until it thickens
  10. Once the chicken is cooked and cool enough, remove the bones and the rosemary
  11. Then break the pieces down (like you were making pulled chicken), and mix with a large spoonful of bechamel
  12. Using a piping bag or a spoon, fill your pasta
  13. Place the filled pasta tubes in a baking dish and cover with the remaining bechamel
  14. Put the dish back in the oven (again - 180ºC / 360ºF) until the bechamel goes golden brown on top
  15. Serve

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