Monday, 6 February 2012
Ragu` alla Genovese (From Genova With Love:Beef, Onions and Wine Pasta Sauce)
She sat at the dressing table... her legs too short, to even reach the floor. A little girl, she would often visit her aunt: Annina (her mum's sister) must have been very beautiful, once. An old lady (at least that is what the little girl thought she was!) she had a beautiful face: nice lips, pearly white smile and a small, almost square, but delicate chin. She truly a beauty.
I will never forget the tiny little window in my aunt's little kitchen, on the top floor of a palazzo which belonged to the family. Nonna lived downstairs. On the windowsill, a jug with a painted landscape (little did I know that one day I would have a house by the sea from which I could see exactly the same "panorama!")
On the dressing table, a snow globe: if I turned it upside down, I could make it "snow" all over Rome! How my aunt would have laughed if she could have seen Anna play non stop with the snow globe and "swimming" with her imagination inside the globe, just like a fish in a bowl: the little girl could swim all over Rome!
I bought an old snow globe, a few days ago. I just had to, and, if I told you how much time I spend playing with it, to watch the snow fall, you wouldn't believe it! How wonderful, being able to "trap" people, places and time inside a plastic globe! How weird and wonderful it feels still being able to be a child...
Today, I am "trapped" inside. It's snowing! It snowed all night and the world looks beautiful and very clean. I fed my birds, in the garden, and looked at the footprints by my kitchen door: the big black cat must have walked all round the house, down the long path, climbed up the old wooden gate and then gone home to curl up by the fire...
As I write, I look at the old mill, out of the window, and a forest, in the distance. From downstairs, a delicious aroma makes its way and... hmmm... I can smell it right now... just the dish for a cold Winter's day, all the way from Northern Italy, and a family favourite: Ragu` alla Genovese. It smells like home and brings back memories... so many warm, cosy memories... open the gate!
Ragu` alla Genovese
(Beef Ragu` Genova Style)
Olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but be very generous with the amount)
4 large onions
(about 500 g- just over 1lb)
500g ( just over 1lb) stewing steak (casserole beef)
2 glasses white wine
a chunk of Parmesan Cheese
500g ( just over 1lb) pasta of your choice
( penne or rigatoni is ideal for this)
Plenty grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
This is a dish which originated from Genova, in Liguria, which has become a family classic. It's not a tomato based meat sauce, but a lovely golden brown, extremely delicious sauce you serve on pasta. The meat is reserved for a second course, usually eaten with a contorno (side) salad, or potatoes (square potato pieces baked with olive oil, garlic and rosemary) or just some delicious bread! In Italy, salad is always served after pasta, as a side dish. Never, ever before!
Before you start, peel your onions and chop very finely (in a food processor, if you have one, or using a knife)
Next, heat the oil in a saucepan (the amount is up to you, but remember that the meat will cook in oil and wine, so, be generous, as you are cooking a lot of onion plus meat,) Now you can add your onions and your chunk of cheese.
Cook until the onions begin to turn golden. Add your meat (in biggish pieces) and stir until it has browned. You can now turn the heat right up and add your wine, stir till it blends in with the onions and the meat, and then you small amount of passata.
All you have to do now is add salt, stir, turn the heat down and wait till the meat is cooked and the sauce has turned a gorgeous creamy golden brown colour. If you think your onions might be sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a small amount of water. The might might take over three hours to cook, on a low heat.
We serve the sauce on pasta, first, with a generous sprinkling of cheese, and the meat next, on a separate plate, with salad, or potatoes, or any other vegetable we fancy!
Delicious! You won't know HOW DELICIOUS until you try!