Philippa Davis' venison cannelloni with crumbly cheese makes for the perfect cheesy comfort food, using the best of British ingredients

Britain has a wealth of excellent cheeses and we must all use them more, says Philippa Davis. This venison cannelloni with crumbly cheese is an excellent place to start.

For more inspiration on how to use the best British cheeses, try our game cobbler with smoked cheese scones or pheasant schnitzel burger with British-style brie.


For the cheese sauce to accompany the cannelloni I wanted something that could be grated and has plenty of tang. Try Appleby’s raw milk, clothbound farmhouse Cheshire; Gorwydd Caerphilly (Trethowan’s Dairy, Somerset); Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire.

Serves 4


  • 12 cannelloni tubes or 8 lasagne sheets blanched in boiling water until softened
  • 2 + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped thyme
  • 500g venison mince
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 500g passata
  • 100ml red wine
  • 200ml water

Cheese sauce

  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1.2 litre whole milk
  • 400g crumbly cheese

In a pan on a medium heat season and sauté in 2 tablespoons of olive oil the onions, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme until soft. Spoon into a bowl, return the pan to the heat then season and brown the mince in the other 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Return vegetables to the pan, add the bay leaves, passata and wine. Swirl the water in the passata jar and add to the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook on a very low heat for about 2 hours. Check the seasoning then leave to cool.

For the cheese sauce, in a pan on a low heat melt the butter then add the flour.

Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened.

Whisk in 300g of the cheese.

Preheat the oven to 170°C fan/gas mark 3.

Pour one-third of the cheese sauce into a large, lightly greased baking dish.

Using a spoon or piping bag fill the cannelloni tubes with the mince mixture or spoon it along the width of the lasagne sheets and roll up. Place them in the dish.

Top with the remaining cheese sauce then scatter on the rest of the cheese.

Lightly cover the dish with foil and then bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. The pasta should be cooked and the top golden.