In my family this recipe has always been known as spaghetti “alla Genovese”. Interestingly enough, this dish doesn’t have anything to do with the historical city of Genoa, in Northern Italy but it is actually a recipe which is deeply rooted in Naples and in its varied cuisine.
There are several legends on the origins of the name, one being that in the 1400s a chef called ‘’o genoves’, who owned one of the best taverns along the Port of Naples, made this sauce which became popular among his clients. Another story suggests that the time of the Aragonese saw the port of Naples swarmed with taverns run by Genoese cooks.
Whatever its origin, like any recipe that is cooked with patience and passion, the resulting dish is outstanding. Comforting, meaty, hearty and with hints of sweetness from the dissolved onions, it is as intense as only a recipe from the South of Italy can be.
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic finely sliced
700 g of feather steak, cut into 5cm pieces
200 ml of dry white wine
2 big onions, finely minced
500 g of rooster potatoes, peeled and diced
700 ml of home-made vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
400 g spaghetti
Black pepper, freshly ground
Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
In a large saucepan heat the extra virgin olive oil on a medium heat, add the minced garlic and sauté for a few minutes.
Add the beef pieces, stirring them for 6-7 minutes until brown on all sides. Pour in the wine and stir occasionally until almost completely evaporated. Then add the sliced onions, the bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes until softened.
Stir in the diced potatoes and cover with boiling home-made vegetable stock.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer gently for 2.5-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Season it with salt only an hour before turning off the heath.
Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook “al dente”.
When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the saucepan. Cook it for just a minute or two more to absorb the flavours of the sauce. Serve with some black pepper and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Other very good cuts for this recipe are the beef cheek or the beef shin, very well suited as the feather steak to be braised slowly.
This dish matches very well with a glass of Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Cerasuolo. The name Cerasuolo comes from the word “cerasa”, which means cherry in local dialect and refers to the cherry-like colour of this rosé wine, noted for fruity character and gentle tannins.