View this email in your browser

A trilogy to match Lord of the Rings

We’ve done real ragù. We’ve done fennel sausage ragù. And now we complete the ragù trilogy with ragù alla Genovese.

It’s the Meryl Streep of ragùs: classy, compelling, highly popular yet critically acclaimed, and generally just hugely satisfying.

In short, we’re gonna slowly cook beef, with a large quantity of onions, until meltingly tender.

This week’s album
Donda by Kanye West

There’s been a lot of hype about the delay of Donda but it’s finally here. I’m a huge Kanye West fan, but his more recent work needs a few listens to get your head around and appreciate. Donda is no different. Some parts excellent, some parts not. But it’s boundary pushing, ambitious, and seriously impressive from an artist who’s been at the top of his game for nearly 20 years.

What's in a name?

Quelle horreur: ragù alla Genovese is not from Genoa. It’s actually a classic Neapolitan recipe which dates back to the 15th Century.

So why the name? Some say it was made by a person called Genovese. Others say it was created by Genovese cooks living in Naples. Cooks who were known for their meat-based sauces (something common in the wealthier parts of northern Italy at that time). 

Regardless of the backstory, it’s a delicious dish, and one that uses an arguably excessive amount of onions. 

However, it’s these onions which make the ragù so distinctive. They provide an incredible depth of flavour and sweetness. So much so, you don’t even need to use any stock or parmesan. Having said that, more parma never hurt anyone.

Your best friend this week… Onions.

The ragù takes a while to cook so it’s not done often and is usually saved for a Sunday meal.

Traditionally, once cooked, you’d remove the meat from the ragù’s sauce to eat as a main course, and use the remaining sauce for your pasta course. But this week we’re going to combine the two to create a particularly satisfying dish. 

Two things:

1. Use a cut of meat which is suitable for slow cooking.

This usually means going for a muscle that does a lot of work and has connective tissues and fat marbling. I used diced shin, but things like chuck, cheek, brisket, feather blade, or any braising/stewing steak work well.

2. Use any short tubular pasta.

You’d normally use a pasta called ziti which is essentially long smooth tubes which you break into smaller tubes just before cooking.

Why it’s not made into shorter tubes in the first place is one of life’s great conundrums, but it's best not to question Italians on their pasta preferences. If you do, they’ll just say “perché si fa così” - “because that’s how it’s done.” Useful.

Ziti can be tricky to find in the UK, so sub in any other short tubular pasta. I used penne ‘lisce’.

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 30 mins to prep and 4.5 hours to cook (most of that is waiting around time). 

4 tbsps olive oil

500g stewing beef (chuck/shin/cheek cut into 4cm dice)

40g butter

1 carrot (peeled & finely diced)

2 celery sticks (peeled & finely diced)

800g white onions (peeled, quartered & finely sliced)

175ml white wine

1 bay leaf

400g short tubular pasta (ziti, paccheri, penne, rigatoni)

1 small pack parsley (roughly chopped)

Sea salt & black pepper

Parmesan (optional)

Ready, steady, cook

1. Season the beef generously with sea salt and set aside for 15 mins (this allows the salt to penetrate the meat). Place a large pan on a high heat. When hot, add 2 tbsps of olive oil followed by the seasoned beef. Fry the beef, turning occasionally, until well coloured all over. Transfer to a plate or bowl and set aside.


2. Return the pan to a medium heat, add the remaining 2 tbsps of olive oil and the butter. When just starting to foam, add in the finely diced carrot and celery, along with a pinch of salt. Sauté gently for 3 mins before adding the finely sliced onions and another pinch of salt. 


NOTE: seasoning the veg is really important, not only for flavour development but also because it will help them cook. As it draws out the moisture from within, it softens the veg without them burning. 


3. Cook the onions for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally, until they’re very soft and have taken on a little colour.


4. When the onions are ready, add the beef back into the pan, turn up the heat, and add in the white wine. Leave to cook for 2 mins (you want the wine to reduce and the alcohol flavour to disappear - keep tasting until it has!). Season with some freshly ground black pepper, add in the bay leaf, and cover with water (about 1 litre).


5. Leave to cook on a very low heat for about 4 hours. The liquid should be just bubbling so that the water evaporates.


NOTE: the water is used purely as a way of cooking the beef until it's tender. Eventually most of it will evaporate and you’ll be left with the flavour of the sweet onions.


6. After 4 hours the meat should be soft enough to break down with a wooden spoon. Push down on the pieces of meat so that it breaks and combines with the onions to form a sauce. The water should have mostly evaporated and you’ll have a thick sauce. Leave on a low heat while we cook the pasta…


7. Add a large pan of salted water to a high heat. When boiling, add the pasta and start a timer for 2 mins less than the instructions on the packet state for ‘al dente’.


8. When the timer goes off, use a sieve or large slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the pan of ragù. The starchy pasta water that gets transferred with the pasta is essential to finishing the dish. 


Turn up the heat on the sauce and continue to cook the pasta for another 2 mins, stirring or tossing rigorously as it cooks. The process of stirring/tossing at the final stages of cooking helps to emulsify the sauce and combine it with the pasta.


9. Add in the chopped parsley and stir through (you can also add an extra knob of butter to make the sauce extra luxurious). Finally, divide between bowls and, if desired (which you should), grate over some parmesan.


Final thought

You can prep this recipe in advance which makes it even tastier. Just chill it (or freeze it) and reheat it (just add a little water). Make a large batch now to get ready for winter hibernation.

Same time next week,


Last week’s results

Painting a pretty picture? 

Tag your dishes with #eatmywordslondon, or hit reply to this email with a photo.


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp