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Pasta alla Genovese
Don’t be fooled by the name of this dish. This is not pasta with Genovese basil pesto, nor is it from Genoa. Rather, the sauce is an onion-based ragù and a classic in the Neapolitan culinary repertoire. (How the sauce acquired its name is unknown, but we were told in Naples that some believe it comes from the Genovese sailors who visited Naples for trade. The theory goes that either they made this dish while in town or—more likely—locals made it for them.) Some versions of pasta alla genovese are meat-free, others include a small amount of beef or veal as a flavoring, but never as a key ingredient. Taking a cue from A Cucina Ra Casa Mia in Naples, we use boneless beef short ribs in ours. We combine beef, cut into chunks, with carrots, celery and an abundance of onions in a Dutch oven and put the pot into the oven, where the heat is slow and steady, until the meat is tender enough to fall apart when prodded with a fork. Slicing 3 pounds of onions by hand is a good opportunity to hone your knife skills, but if you prefer, they can be sliced on a mandoline. The ragù can be made up to three days ahead, then reheated gently before tossing with just-cooked pasta.
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
ounces pancetta, chopped
01Heat the oven to 325°F with the rack in the lower-middle position. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Add the onions, beef, pepper flakes, Parmesan rind (if using), ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper, then stir to combine. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.
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