Genovese pasta | Ligurian Business Magazine

Pasta alla Genovese, the “Genovese”, is an unknown dish in Genoa and in the rest of Liguria and one of the best known and most traditional of Neapolitan cuisine. This section is dedicated to spreading awareness of Ligurian recipes that are at risk of being forgotten or unknown outside of a small territory, usually a valley, of the region. We can ask ourselves if the Genoese is a dish that we transmit to Naples and then forget -and it falls within our area of ​​​​interest- or with Genoa, and this column has nothing to do with it. The question is controversial and, at least in our opinion, does not have a sure answer. However, it may be interesting to browse a bit on the subject. And in any case the recipe is worth trying: it is essentially a overcooked meat and onion which, if done correctly, produces a thick and creamy sauce, very tasty and fragrant, with which to season the pasta.

In it “free of coquina”, the oldest cookbook of local Italian cuisine, attributed to an author who worked at the Angevin court in Naples in the 14th century (Einaudi, “The art of cooking in Italy” by Emilio Faccioli, 1987, pages 32-33) , recipe no. 66 “De tria ianuensis” prescribes: «Ad triam ianuensem, suffrige cipolas cum oleo et mite in aqua bullienti, decoque, et super posesspecies; et colors et savors sicut vis. Cum istis potes ponene caseum grattatum vel incisum. Et da quandocumque placet cum caponibus et cum ovis vel quibuscumque carnibus». In Einaudi’s translation: “To make tria genovesa, onions are fried in oil and put in boiling water; cook and spice it up; and the color and flavor you want. With these you can put grated or chopped cheese. And serve them anytime you like along with capons or eggs or any meat.”

Tria comes from the Arabic itriya which means dry pasta. Still in Salento, it means pasta in the recipe “Ciceri e tria”. And Genoa was one of the first Italian cities to adopt pasta as a common dish: it did not have wheat inside, on the contrary, it had ships that could transport wheat from anywhere in the Mediterranean. The recipe is interesting but it is not certain that it is the ancestor of the modern Genoese: it seems conceived as a condiment for eggs or meat rather than for pasta -but in the name it contains a reference to tria- among the ingredients it does not mention the meat and it is not clear what should be put in boiling water: the onion fried in oil, the meat, the tria?

Again in Faccioli’s book, on p. 810-811, we find another recipe reminiscent of the Genoese: “Lacierto de vacca mbottunato”, in the “Theoretical-Practical Kitchen” by the Neapolitan Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino, (1787-1860).

Here it is: “Si po ‘lu vuo’ fa mbuttunato, pigliarraje nu bello laciertiello, nce farraje nu pertuso a luongo, a luongo: po ‘piglia na fella de prosutto and ntretullaraje, nu poco de petrusino pure ntretato, four spicules of garlic, pass and pignuole, na layer of casecavallo made in pieces and mbottunarraje: miettelo dint’a nu tiano cu llardo heavy, na cepolla ntretata, salt, pepper and all spiezie and do it zuffrijere good, good: confromme s’arrussesce miettece nu poco de water to the vote and accossì farraje nu beautiful broth for the maccarune and for everything”. In the translation: “If you want to make it stuffed, you will take a good piece of fragment and you will make a hole in it for a long time; then you take a slice of ham and chop it up, a little chopped parsley, four cloves of garlic, one pass and pine nuts, a head of caciocavallo cut into small pieces, and stuff it; put it in a pan with mashed lard, a chopped onion, salt, pepper and all kinds of spices, and fry it well; as little by little it is taking color, add a little water at a time, and you will make a good sauce for macaroni and everything else». (The lacerto is a muscle of the front or hind legs). Here are the essential elements of Genoese, meat and onion, but along with many other ingredients such as ham, raisins, pine nuts, caciocavallo… And the role of the onion seems rather complementary, like that of parsley. Today’s Neapolitan sauce could be a simplification adopted by the popular cuisine of Cavalcanti’s recipe, but the relationship is far from certain. Who knows how many other stews with meat and onions, without tomato, which before the end of the 18th century were not very widespread even in the south, could be taken into account.

This is with respect to written testimonials. Rumors passed down over time and the conjectures of scholars tell us that in the 17th century there were Genoese tractors in Naples that cooked meat with onions for a colony of Genoese merchants or for the sailors of the Superba. But in Genoa there is no trace of the Genoese. The “Touch” is quite different.

And now let’s see how to make our Genovese in Liguria.

Different cuts of veal (sometimes even pork) are used for the meat of the Genoese of Naples. The most mentioned is the first cut of the “annecchia”, which is the tip of the veal rump but the whole rump, the round rump (ie Cavalcanti piece) and others are also good. Originally the cooking fat should have been lard, coming from the animal’s adrenal zone, cut into small pieces, slowly heated until fluidized, filtered of impurities and then allowed to solidify. Lard is the basis for the preparation of tarallucci, lard and pepper, typical of Neapolitan cuisine and once served on pizza together with pecorino. Failing that, we can replace it with lard, a subcutaneous fat subjected to the same processing, and/or olive oil. Butter must be excluded. The most appropriate onion would be Montoro (in the province of Avellino), sweet on the palate and intensely aromatic on the nose and highly resistant to cooking (which lasts three hours in our recipe). We can substitute it for another variety of copper/gold onion.

Ingredients: 2 kg of copper onions, 1 kg of meat (round or other), a glass of extra virgin olive oil or lard or half and half, salt, pepper, a sprig of parsley, two carrots, a branch of celery, a glass of white wine, aged pecorino, pasta as needed. Short pasta. In Naples a lot of ziti is used for this dish, broken by hand. We could use hand-split Christmas macaroni or, more simply, some kind of short pasta, tortiglioni and the like. Some do not use parsley. Some people also add a little tomato, but one characteristic of this sauce is that it is white.

Method. Cut the onion into thin slices. The meat can be cut into a few large chunks or left whole. Chop the carrots, celery and parsley, fry them in the chosen fat and after a few minutes add the onions. Cook for a quarter of an hour and add the white wine and the meat. Let the wine evaporate, add salt and pepper. Now comes the most challenging part: everything must be cooked over a very low heat for about three hours, obviously without sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the onions are completely crushed and transformed into a cream, with flavor, smell and color by the meat. We can use excellent heavy enameled cast iron pans, now in fashion, and in any case containers that allow prolonged cooking. With the lid on, of course.

The sauce will be enough for at least six people. The very tender meat can be used as a main course or shredded and added to the sauce. Season the pasta with the sauce, grated pecorino and more pepper, and serve hot. What did it come with? This time we leave the territory of Liguria and focus on a full-bodied red from Campania, such as Taurasifor both pasta and meat.

Placet experiri!