The people of Naples love simple food where every ingredient plays an important part and can be tasted. This honest and respectful approach to ingredients makes for the tastiest food. One of the most typical and celebrated Neapolitan dishes is Pasta Genovese, which is almost a dish of nothing more than two ingredients, onions and beef, and, believe it or not, those are in order of importance.
Though no one really knows for sure, the name of the dish, ‘a sauce done in the style of Genoa (the town in north west Italy)’, may hark back to a time when both Genoa and Naples were extremely important Italian ports, and the recipe may have been introduced to Naples from Genovese merchants.
The only thing that makes this recipe something of a chore is the time it takes, but there is relatively minimal effort involved. The battle you have is more with your own patience and hunger as everything slowly comes together over a period of hours. But it’s well worth the wait. To save time, I’ve cooked the onions till golden and melting on the hob, but then finished them off with the beef in a pressure cooker.
- December 21, 2018
- 4 Servings
- 3 hr
- Print this
- 800g brown onions, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 2 rashers of streaky bacon, finely sliced
- 500g beef which is good for braising, with some fat through it, such as chuck. I used short rib on the bone.
- 2 glasses of white wine
- 400g pasta of your choice. Use something which will hold this thick sauce, such as rigatoni or ziti, though I have eaten it in Naples with tagliatelle. Here I’ve used paccheri di Gragnano which I brought back from Naples.
- Parmesan to serve
- Step 1
- On a low heat very slowly cook the onions with a little oil and butter (some recipes use lard, to complement the beef). As they soften, add a glass of wine, the carrot, celery and bacon, then stir and cover and continue to cook on a very low heat until the onions become very soft and caramel brown. This stage should take around an hour.
- Step 2
- Place the beef on top of the onions, add the second glass of wine, cover and leave on a very low heat. How long this takes will depend on your cut of meat and your method. On the hob, this could take several hours, and you will need to keep checking and stirring, possibly adding a little water or wine so nothing catches. Alternatively in the pressure cooker, cook for one hour, then check. At this point the bones fell from my short rib. Add some water or more wine if necessary. Then cook for another half hour or until the beef literally falls apart. Now season with salt and pepper.
- Step 3
- Cook your pasta. Pull the beef apart, but leave some bite-sized pieces whole for a contrast in texture and as a treat. When the pasta is cooked, stir it into the sauce carefully and serve with grated Parmesan.