Mains/ Pasta

Genovese Sauce – La Genovese Napoletana

May 6, 2020 by Emily

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.

Genovese Sauce or La Genovese Napoletana is an incredibly delicious sauce made with a ton of slow-cooked onions, beef, and white wine. Although it takes time to simmer slowly into the most rich and luscious pasta sauce you’ll ever taste it doesn’t require much attention and is super simple to make!

An overhead shot of Genovese sauce with rigatoni pasta in a bowl with a glass of wine beside it

A Genovese Sauce from Naples!

The origins of this sauce are a little confusing, the name suggests that it would originate in Genoa but it’s actually from Naples.

Some say it was brought to Campania by Genovese sailors during the Renaissance while other stories suggest that it was created by a Genovese chef in Naples.

What’s strange is that this sauce doesn’t actually exist in Genoa, confusing, right?

However strange the origin, I’d say this ragu is one of Italy’s best kept secrets!

You probably won’t see it on any restaurant menu (unless you’re in Campania) and not many people know about it either.

But once you make it I guarantee it’ll be one of your favourite dishes that you’ll want to make time and time again.

Top Tip: If you’re looking for a pesto pasta sauce from Genoa then check out our Basil Pesto Recipe.

Important notes about the ingredients

Onions

There are a lot of onions in this recipe way more than in your typical traditional Italian ragu.

I use 1 kilo of yellow onions to make La Genovese which is roughly 4 large onions.

They need to be thinly sliced, not chopped which takes a bit of time doing by hand.

If cutting onions make your eyes water then slice them in a food processor which not only makes it easier on your eyes but is much quicker too.

Just make sure to use the slicer attachment for nice fine slices and not the shredder side (see full step instructions below).

Carrot & celery

You only need 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk finely chopped. Don’t be tempted to add extra carrots or the sauce will be too sweet.

Beef

You want to use a whole piece or a few medium chunks of stewing beef. 

Whether you decide to keep it whole or cut it into chunks will depend on how you’d like to serve this sauce.

See the serving suggestions below for 2 delicious options!

White wine

This is added at the final hour of cooking once the sauce is uncovered which adds a beautiful flavour as it cooks down.

It may seem like a small amount of liquid for a whole ragu but there’s so much liquid released from the onions that you don’t need anymore. 

The onions also give this sauce a rich and creamy consistency, see below how delicious and glossy it looks (with hardly any liquid).

A side shot of a Neapolitan ragu tossed with rigatoni pasta in a rustic bowl

How to make Genovese Sauce – step by step

First, finely slice the onions, you can do this by hand or in a food processor (our preferred method see photos 1-4 below).

Step by step photos showing how to slice onions in a food processor

Heat the olive oil in a large pot on a medium-low heat and add the onions, carrot, and celery.

Slowly saute the onions for 10 minutes keeping them on a low heat so they don’t brown (photos 5 & 6).

Step by step photos showing the process of making genovese sauce

Meanwhile sprinkle salt and pepper over the beef and add to the pot with the bay and parsley, let the beef brown for a minute or two (photos 7 & 8).

Cover the pot and leave on a medium-low heat for 3 hours checking and stirring every so often to make sure it isn’t sticking.

After the 3 hours uncover the pot and add the wine. Leave to simmer uncovered for another hour (photos 9-11).

Step by step photos showing how an onion and beef sauce looks once cooked and tossed with pasta

Once cooked and the sauce has reduced cook your preferred pasta and toss with some of the sauce (photo 12).

Serving suggestions

There are two ways to serve this sauce and both ways are just as delicious!

Serving suggestion 1: Slowly cook the sauce as directed in this recipe so the meat becomes super tender and becomes part of the sauce.

Serving suggestion 2: Instead of cutting the beef into chunks keep it whole and slowly cook for 3 hours as directed.

After 3 hours of cooking remove the beef and set aside to keep warm.

Add the wine and cook the onion sauce for another hour. Serve the onion sauce with pasta and serve slices of beef with as a second course.

This is the traditional way of Italian eating, serve a little portion of pasta first and the meat cooked in the pasta sauce as a Secondo or second course after usually with some Contorni or sides.

Italian roasted potatoes, green beans or sauteed greens would be perfect sides alongside the beef!

Top tips for make Genovese Sauce

  • This sauce pretty much cooks itself after the initial prep work you just need to make sure you stir it every so often to make sure it’s not sticking and keep it on a medium-low heat.
  • There’s no need to add liquid at the first stage of cooking because the onions release a lot of water so don’t be tempted to add any extra.
  • You can toss this sauce with any pasta you like so choose your favourite just make sure to toss the pasta and sauce together thoroughly before serving.
  • Leftover sauce will keep well for around 3-4 days in the fridge or can be frozen and thawed as needed.

More Italian ragu recipes you might like:

If you tried this Genovese Sauce or any other recipes on my blog please be sure to leave me a comment below to let me know how you got on, I love hearing from you. You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Genovese Sauce - La Genovese Napoletana

Genovese Sauce or La Genovese Napoletana is an incredibly delicious sauce made with a ton of slow cooked onions, beef and white wine. Although it takes time to simmer slowly into the most rich and luscious pasta sauce you'll ever taste it doesn't require much attention and is super simple to make!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 - 8 servings
Calories 226kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 4 large yellow onions finely sliced *see notes (1 kg)
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 celery stock finely chopped
  • 1.3 lbs beef chuck roast or stewing beef cut into medium-large chunks or left whole *see notes for end results (600g)
  • ½ cup white wine 120ml
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup fresh parsley roughly chopped (a small handful)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • frsehly grated parmesan for serving

Instructions

  • Prepare all the vegetables (see notes on cutting the onions) and sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.
  • Add the olive oil to a large pot on a medium-low heat and add the onions, carrot and celery. Saute the onions for 10 minutes then add the beef, bay and parsley.
  • Let the beef brown on all sides, you’ll need to stir the mixture around slightly so the beef touches the bottom of the pot.
  • Cover the pot and let it slowly cook for 3 hours stirring every now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick.
  • After 3 hours remove the lid and add the white wine. Continue to simmer the ragu on a medium-low heat for another hour.
  • Once done taste and add more salt to taste then toss with cooked and drained pasta of choice.

Notes

There are two ways to serve this sauce; one way is as directed above where the beef falls apart and becomes part of the sauce or you can choose to keep the beef whole and serve that seperatly as a second course. See the directions below.
  1. Brown the whole piece of beef first on all sides then remove and set aside.
  2. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the beef back to the pot with herbs and cook covered for 3 hours turning the beef halfway through.
  4. After 3 hours remove the beef and keep warm.
  5. Add the wine to the onion and cook uncovered for 1 hour, serve with pasta.
  6. Slice the beef and serve as a second course with your choice of sides and a little onion sauce on top.
  7. Italian roasted potatoes, green beans or sauted greens would be perfect sides alongside the beef!
 

Extra Tips

  • This sauce pretty much cooks itself after the initial prep work you just need to make sure you stir it every so often to make sure it's not sticking and keep it on a medium-low heat.
  • There's no need to add liquid at the first stage of cooking because the onions release a lot of water so don't be tempted to add any extra.
  • You can toss this sauce with any pasta you like so choose your favourite just make sure to toss the pasta and sauce together thoroughly before serving.
  • Leftover sauce will keep well for around 3-4 days in the fridge or can be frozen and thawed as needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 83mg | Potassium: 609mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4015IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We'd love you see what you're getting up to in the kitchen!

 

 

Newsletter

3 Comments

  • Reply
    Angela
    May 24, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Just made this for dinner tonight and it’s a perfect example of how you can make something delicious with very few ingredients..which let’s face it, Italians do so well! So satisfying and
    tasty! I will be making this again and again! Thank you!5 stars

  • Reply
    Kirsty
    May 10, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Made this yesterday after finding it on Pinterest and it was delicious!5 stars

  • Leave a Reply






    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
    shares