1.5kg of golden onions
1 litre of milk
1 stick of celery
a small piece of pancetta
1 bay leaf
½ a star anise
500g veal breast
a glass of white wine
1.5kg of golden onions
250 ml of water or light stock
freshly ground black pepper
Pasta alla Genovese
Every chef should know their onions! A Neapolitan dish traditionally served on a Sunday, created by a chef called Genovese - it has nothing to do with pesto!
You can begin to prepare the dish on Saturday, cook it for four hours, then cook it for another four hours on Sunday morning so that it’s ready for lunch.
Every cook should know their onions. If you leave them to soak in milk overnight they don’t make you cry when you chop them and they have a more mellow flavour.
When cooking try not to disturb the onions. Once you lay the onions out over the meat and the lid is put on, they should not really be disturbed or stirred. Imagine that you’re melting the onions, then once melted they are ever so gently caramelised. You shouldn’t need to add more water or stock because everything cooks in the onion liquid.
The day before you start to prepare the Genovese sauce, peel the onions, put them in a bowl and cover them with the milk, making sure that they are completely submerged. If not, add a little water to the milk.
Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
In a casserole pan, make a soffrito with the carrot and the celery and cook in a little extra virgin olive oil with a piece of pancetta until it is thoroughly cooked and transparent.
Remove the soffrito from the casserole pan and set aside.
Dust the piece of veal in seasoned flour and brown on all sides in the pan with a little more extra virgin olive oil. Remove the veal from the pan, pour off any oil and deglaze the pan with white wine. Add the garlic, 1/2 a star anise and the bay leaf then return the soffrito to the pan and cook for a further couple of minutes.
Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the casserole. Cook for another couple of minutes until the tomatoes have started to break down into the soffrito. Season well then return the veal to the pan, add the stock and simmer for about ten minutes. Whilst it’s simmering, slice the onions, lightly season with salt and pepper and place them around and on top of the meat. Close the casserole with a lid. then bring to the boil on a medium heat before lowering the heat and cooking the contents on the smallest flame/heat possible. Check every now and then to make sure the onions are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If necessary add a little water. Cook for eight hours.
The sauce is ready when the onions have melted into a kind of marmalade and have slightly caramelised in colour.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Break up the ziti and add to the boiling water. Cook until al dente.
Remove the meat from the onions, drain the pasta and mix into the sauce. Season with freshly grated pecorino cheese and freshly ground black pepper.