I’d like to propose a lovely typical Neapolitan recipe for a delicious first course.
In Naples, the “Genovese” refers to the “Ragu` Genovese,” which is a thick sauce obtained by cooking onions and meat with patience and in a little fire. The Ragu` is a type of sauce, a nourishment of the soul, prepared by following not so much a recipe as a ritual.
In EVERY sauce worthy of this name, the real ingredient is TIME.
ZITI WITH GENOVESE
Many of you will wonder, how can the Genovese be from Naples?
According to some old texts, the sauce was created in Naples but prepared by chefs from Genoa, who used to cook the meat to obtain a useful sauce to flavor the pasta.
Neapolitan and Genoese cuisines have ancient and historical roots that date back to the Greco-Roman period.
The country known as Italy was united in the 19th century, and the cuisine can claim traceable roots as far back as the 4th century BCE. Through the centuries, neighboring regions, conquerors, highly esteemed chefs, and sailors discovering the New World have influenced its culinary development.
Vincenzo Corrado, cook, and writer, already speaks about this ragu in his book “Cucina Napoletana” in the first edition of 1832, and afterward, by Ippolito Cavalcanti in the cookbook “Cucina Teorico Pratica,” published in 1837, the era of the Bourbon court. He mentions the word “meat sauce,” referring to macaroni in a stewed sauce, and describes the Genoese recipes as a simple sauce. Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino, was also a writer and the official chef in the Kingdom of Naples. For fairness, we should say that other historical sources date the recipe to the sailors of the “Superba,” a merchant boat that docked in Naples in the eighteenth century, on which they brought their eating habits and recipes.
In fact, those who are speaking explain that the Genoese restaurateurs were cooking the meat with the onion, to which the Neapolitans would then add the pasta.
Today, the Genovese Ragu` is the pride of Neapolitan cuisine.
But what type of pasta has been associated with this Ragu`?
Large-type pasta is recommended to encourage the sauce to fall into the hole. Ziti or macaroni are the ones chosen historically, and both are also used in marriages receptions (“zita” means bride).
However, it is interesting to note that the courts of Naples always enforced the nobles in consuming pasta that required a fork rather than a spoon, to discriminate the “peasants” in the countryside eating soups and not pasta. We all agree, though, that a lot of the Italian recipes in use today are ones created by the poor.
These ziti are initially hand broken and cooked together with the small pieces that fall during preparation; these provide essential extra dough that ends up in the pot and mixes with the sauce and make the sweetest bite if you reserve it for the last!
Let’s see how to proceed in the kitchen.
Sauté the meat in olive oil, just until it is well browned. Add celery and carrots cut into julienne strips, the bay leaves, and a little tomato. Cook it a bit longer and deglaze with white wine. At this point add the sliced onions, previously kept in salt water for 12 hours, and white vinegar dribble. Cook everything covered and over low heat for about 4 hours; season it with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix the pasta while al dente with the sauce and sprinkle with Parmigiano cheese.
Buon Appetito from Back to Basics!