With their new cookbook Italian-American the chefs behind Don Angie, Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, celebrate the red-sauce Italian cuisine they loved growing up and serve at their successful New York restaurant. But they also found inspiration outside of southern Italian immigrant cuisine created here in the United States. They’ve gone back to basics to find dishes they’ve fallen in love with and share them in the book, like this amazing recipe from Naples below, which you can serve over pasta or polenta. Either way, it’s a perfect meal as the weather is getting chilly.
We discovered this sauce, sometimes called ragu Genovese, in a very small trattoria in the heart of Naples. The rich, onion-laden pasta arrived atop a giant mound of macaroni, and although it seemed so simple, the depth of flavor that was squeezed out of the long-cooked stew was unlike anything we’ve ever had. tasted. The dish is only found in Naples; the sauce never became popular in the United States, nor, as far as we know, anywhere else in Italy. Nobody knows why it’s called Genovese, since nothing like it exists in Genoa, the port city in northern Italy from which the name is derived, but some suspect it may have originated there, making its way south to the port of Naples via Genoese merchants. , and stayed put.
The original recipe features braised meat, usually inexpensive roasting cuts, and a mountain of onions; it is almost always served with tubular pasta like ziti. Ours is made with short ribs because it has lots of flavor and lots of natural fat. We braise the meat and caramelize the onions in separate pots, then combine the two at the end, marrying all those deep roasted flavors into a thick, rich sauce. If you don’t want to go the pasta route, this stew would be delicious over polenta, rice, or even potatoes.
Neapolitan rib stew with caramelized onions
- 1 ea. plus ⅓ c. extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ch. very thinly sliced yellow onions (about 2 lbs)
- 4 bed. very thinly sliced cipollini or Vidalia onions (about 1½ lbs.)
- 3 celery ribs, very thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp. kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2½ lbs trimmed boneless short ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 ea. dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 8 ch. chicken broth, unsalted store-bought or homemade
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Serve with pasta
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 lb dried tubular pasta, such as ziti or paccheri
- ½ tsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 ea. finely grated pecorino cheese (preferably Pecorino Toscano)
- 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ c. coarsely chopped parsley
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the two onions, celery, 1½ tsp. salt, and 1 tbsp. pepper and mix well. Increase the heat to high and continue to stir until the vegetables begin to soften and release liquid, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring and scraping occasionally, every 8 to 10 minutes, to prevent sticking. Continue cooking and scrape the vegetables while seizing the end of the rib in the next step.
Evenly season the end of the rib with the 1½ tsp. at the remaining table. salt and 1 tbsp. pepper. In a second large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat ⅓ c. olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, add the meat in an even layer and sear until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes total.
Using a ladle, gently scoop excess fat from the pan and discard, leaving about 2 tbsp. fat. Add wine and simmer until liquid volume is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan leaving just a small crack open on top and simmer gently until the meat is fork tender, 1½ to 2 hours.
The liquid should reduce to about half its original volume and turn a dark brown color. Meanwhile, continue to monitor and stir the vegetable mixture. If vegetables start to stick or burn, deglaze with up to ¼ tsp. water, adding 1 tbsp. at a time, and scraping the bottom of the pot to release any stuck or burnt bits. (You may end up repeating this deglazing process two or three times.) Cook the mixture until the vegetables are very tender, deep golden brown, and about a quarter of their original volume, 1½ to 2 hours.
When the vegetables are caramelized and the meat is tender, add the vegetables to the pot of meat and stir very well to combine. Stir in the vinegar. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too runny, simmer over low heat until thickened, which may take up to 30 minutes.
The sauce is ready to use at this point, or it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Serve with pasta
In a large saucepan, bring 4 liters of water and the salt to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce, increase the heat to medium-high and toss well with a spoon to evenly coat. Add butter and pecorino and mix well to combine. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat. Finish with lemon juice and parsley, stirring well to combine. Serve immediately.