Pasta Genovese is a delicious slow cooked beef and onion ragu that is tossed with pasta before serving. It can be served as a casual meal or fancy enough for entertaining. This Genovese sauce recipe will walk you through al the steps to make this delicious and easy dish.
Pasta Genovese is one of my favorite Italian recipes. It is a dish from Napoli not Genoa despite its name. No matter where it is from it is a really simple a delicious beef ragu that anyone can make.
What is Pasta Genovese:
Though it may seem by looking at the picture that this dish has tomato in it, it actually does not. Genovese sauce is made by roasting a beef chuck roast in a copious amount of onions, pancetta, carrots, herbs and white wine.
The onions which are sliced very thin will break down (with a few that don't which add some texture) into the sauce made from the beef rendering down and white wine. The onions and the Genovese sauce turn a deep golden color when cooking.
The final result is the most amazing sauce that is added to a sturdy pasta like rigatoni. The tender and succulent beef roast is served along side the pasta as a second course.
It is really delicious and perfect for any occasion. You really need to try this dish.
Making this Genovese recipe is very easy and so are the ingredients. You just need to be home when making this since the first part of the recipe has you turn the meat after an hour.
The rest is just letting it simmer on your stove top in a heavy bottom dutch oven or pot.
Ingredients you will need for the Genovese:
- Beef Chuck roast (boneless)
- Onions (lots of them)
- White wine
- Rigatoni pasta (or a similar sturdy wide shaped pasta)
- Fresh thyme
- Olive oIl
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Fresh good quality Parmesan for serving
If you saw the lots of onions part, there are lots of them in a Genovese recipe. To be exact it is around 3 pounds of onions. That is about 4-5 large yellow onions.
It may seem a bit scary or that it is too much, but believe me, it all works. There is so much flavor in this Genovese sauce. You will add some of the Genovese sauce over the roast before serving as well.
Here are the steps to make this dish:
The first thing you are going to do is prepare all of your ingredients and sear your meat. Searing of the meat will add richness to the Genovese sauce.
The next steps are going to be adding in all that flavor that is in the Genovese sauce; the pancetta, onions, thyme and carrots. Then it is all brought together to simmer.
You will let it all simmer together for about an hour. After that you flip the meat over and give it another couple hours for the meat to become tender and the onions to develop into a sauce.
The wine will be added towards the end to round it all out.
It is so simple!
I really love how easy this pasta Genovese is to make. I will serve it on holidays and when I am entertaining and just for family. You only need to do a couple things to make this dish and it is so beautiful.
My favorite thing about this Genovese recipe is that it makes a pasta and a roast. So you have a first and second course with minimal effort and who would not love a beef and onion ragu.
Tips for making this Genovese recipe:
Making this recipe in the slow cooker:
You can make this Genovese recipe in the slow cooker if you want by following all of the steps up to the point of simmering the roast. From there you just add your ingredients to a slow cooker and turn on low for 6-7 hours or until the meat is tender.
It actually will cook in just a few hours on simmer on the stove top which I find more convenient. If you are looking for beef recipes in the slow cooker, you may like my brisket recipe. It comes out tender each time.
Preparing this Genovese sauce ahead of time:
You can prepare this recipe ahead of time by prepping your veggies (onions and carrots) and storing them in a sealed container until ready to cook. You can also tie your meat ahead of time which all of these steps will save you most of the prepping time when you are ready to start cooking it.
How to re-heat the Genovese:
To re-heat the meat, just pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees. Place your meat and sauce in aluminum foil and seal it well so it does not leak.
Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce is nice and hot and the meat is warmed through.
I do not recommend re-heating the pasta. It will be better to make a fresh batch of pasta and add the warmed sauce to it. Reserve a little of the pasta water in case the pasta and sauce are too dry.
Pasta Genovese (Italian beef and onion ragu)
- 2 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck roast
- 3 lbs Yellow Spanish onions sliced very thin
- 1 lb Rigatoni or any other wide sturdy pasta
- 1 cup good white wine I like a nice Italian white wine for this like pinot grigio
- 3 carrots cleaned and diced small
- 4 ounces cubed pancetta you can find this in your deli
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes optional
- Grab all of your ingredients and have them ready.
- Slice your onions as thin as possible and set aside.
- Dice your carrots and set aside.
- Tie your beef with kitchen twine. This helps hold the meat together during cooking. If you do not have twine that is ok.
- Pre-heat a heavy bottom dutch oven or pot on medium heat.
- Add your salt and pepper to your beef roast.
- Add your olive oil and red pepper flakes to the pot and cook for 1 minute.
- Add your beef roast to the pot and sear all sides of the beef.
- Once the beef is seared on all sides, remove from the pot and place on a plate.
- Now add your pancetta and diced carrots to your pot still over medium heat and cook until the pancetta is crispy.
- Add your sprigs of thyme to the pot and your beef roast.
- Add your sliced onions over top of the beef roast and cover and let simmer for about 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, flip the beef roast over and place the lid back on your pot and let simmer for 2 more hours.
- After a total of 3 hours, check your beef roast and make sure it is fork tender. If it is, remove the roast from the oven and place on a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
- Now add your wine to the pot and simmer with the lid off for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, place the lid back on your pot and continue simmering over low.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add a large handful of salt to the pot.
- Now add your pasta and cook according to the manufacturers instructions for al dente.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain pasta when ready.
- Pour drained pasta back into the pot.
Assembling the Pasta Genovese
- Add ¼ of your reserved pasta water to your Genovese sauce and mix well.
- If Genovese sauce looks to thick you can add a little more pasta water as needed.
- Scoop a few ladles of your Genovese sauce over your pasta and mix it in.
- Now add the remaining Genovese sauce over top of your beef roast.
- Serve them together at the table with copious amounts of fresh Parmesan.