Recipe by Eva Scialò
Genovese Candele (Candele alla Genovese)
Genovese meat sauce, a feast of onion and meat, is, together with classic ragout meat sauce, the most traditional dish of Neapolitan cuisine. Its history though, is shrouded in mystery. In Naples, there are no doubts as to its origin, it is Naples for sure. But then why is it called Genovese? There are many different hypotheses, where paths intersect and divide. They lead us to the Aragon period, when there were many Genoese cooks residing in the city, or maybe there was a Neapolitan cook called “the Genoese”, or maybe he came from Geneva in Switzerland. Two things are certain: the first is that, already in the 14th century, we find traces of this dish in a Latin cookbook called Liber de coquina; the second, maybe more important, is that this dish has lived through the centuries from table to table and, just like regular ragout sauce, it has become a real cult recipe for Neapolitans today. The types of meat used for the preparation of this dish are the same as for regular ragout, and similarly it is cooked for many hours on a very low heat. Then, tripolini, ziti, manfredi, or candele, pasta shapes, cooked al dente are covered with this sauce, in which the onions, after long hours of cooking, have become a cream. The dish has a golden color and a sweet and inviting smell. The cuts of meat used are cheap and need to be cooked for a long time, but then become as tender as butter. This is why Genovese sauce deserves to be considered among the queens of Neapolitan tradition: humble ingredients, onions, second-choice meat cuts, and other precious ingredients, as well as a care for food and respect for the past. All of this has made this dish, though less known than others, the pride of our land, “Naples gold”.
- 4 hours
Ingredients for four people
2.2 pounds of beef muscle
2 tablespoons of tomato concentrate
1 glass of white wine
The most difficult part of the preparation is to cut all the onions, which need to be finely cut. Even though tradition requires us to cut them by hand, a manual or automatic tool to cut vegetables can be used, of course. In the same way, carrots and celery need to be cut in very fine slices.
In a high-edged casserole, add a little olive oil. When it is hot, roast the meat on all sides, then bathe it in white wine. Once the alcohol evaporates, add onions, carrots, and celery.
Add tomato concentrate and mix it with the oil. Lower the heat to a minimum, cover with a lid and let it cook.
After two hours, add salt to taste and cover again.
After four hours from the beginning, the Genovese sauce should be ready, the onions should have become a cream, and the meat should be very tender. If this isn’t so, keep cooking the sauce. When it’s ready, cover the pasta with the sauce and a thick veil of parmesan.