Genoese pasta is tasty dish from Campania, even though the name sounds different. Let’s not be fooled by the name, this pasta is a typical Neapolitan dish. The origin does not derive so much from the geographical position (Genoa), but from the fact that some Genoese taverns in the port of Naples cooked meat with onions, to which the Neapolitans then added pasta.
It takes a little time to cook, but that extra patience will, however, be rewarded by the tasty flavor! The traditional recipe calls for ziti, an elongated shaped pasta, which is then broken into several parts before cooking. You can also use a short pasta such as penne, macaroni or fusilli, which blend well with this type of creamy and rich sauce.
There are various ways to prepare this tasty and appetizing first course, also loved by first lady Michelle Obama, who chose it to celebrate her 49th birthday at Cafe Milano in Washington DC.
The recipe for Genoese pasta that I propose here is my variation. The meat is cooked slowly for about 2 ½ hours together with the onions, so that the taste of the meat merges with that of the onions. You can use pork loin or veal. Usually the meat is cut into small pieces, like stew, but I prefer to use a whole piece of pork loin which is then cut into slices and covered with a little onion sauce as a second course. The classic recipe uses Tropea onions, instead I prefer yellow onions which have a stronger and more decisive flavor, perfect for this sauce. The onions can be passed through a food mill (with large holes) to obtain a creamier sauce, or if you prefer a more full-bodied sauce you can skip this step and, after cooking, season the pasta directly with the sauce. This is an excellent first course, whose sauce you can also prepare the day before, refrigerate and heat before enjoying it.
If you like pasta with onions try my other recipe: Homemade tagliatelle with caramelized onions. You will find some important nutritional information too.
PASTA ALLA GENOVESE (GENOESE PASTA)
320 g (11.5 oz) ziti or short artisanal semolina pasta
900 g (2 pounds) pork loin or veal fillet
1 ½ kg ( 3 31/2 pounds) golden onions, cut into slices
1 carrot, cut into cubes
1 celery stalk, diced
1 whole garlic clove
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
240 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan, to taste
1. Peel the onions, wash under running cold water and finely slice (see note)
2. In a large saucepan to prepare the sauce, saute carrot, celery and garlic, lightly browning the vegetables in oil over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes. Add the onions, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 4 minutes.
3. Add the meat and the wine. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 ladle of broth and cook, covered, on low heat for about 2 ½ hours. After about 20-30 minutes check if the broth has dried completely, in this case add more and continue cooking. Repeat this operation until the end of cooking in order to obtain a rich and full-bodied sauce.
4. Twenty minutes before the meat is done (check the time), bring 3 liters (3 quarts) of salted water to the boil, cook the pasta for 10-11 minutes (following the cooking time indicated on the package)
5. Remove the meat from the sauce and set aside. You can eat it as second course or keep it for another meal
6. Drain the pasta and season on the serving plate with some onion sauce. You can flavor with grated Parmesan.
Note: Most cooks have experienced “crying” while slicing onions. This is due to the irritants (sulphides) that are released when onions are cut. There are several ways to avoid “crying”; I recommend putting the onions in the freezer for 10 minutes before slicing or slice directly in the water. You can use a large bowl filled with water, divide each onion in half and cut directly into the water with a short and well-sharpened knife. – Paola