There Genoese meat it is a white ragù – creamy, based on meat and onionslong-cooked – which joins perhaps the most famous Neapolitan ragù, with the meat almost melting in the tomato sauce. It is actually from the latter that Manuela Mirabile started ten years ago, opening her first Tandem in an alleyway Spaccanapoli to propose a great classic of Neapolitan cuisine to those who no longer have the time – and perhaps not even the desire – to stay around the fire for hours.
After a few months, the influx of Neapolitans and tourists “forced” the young creator to create a new headquarters a few blocks away, in the heart of the university area, followed by a take-away point and a larger restaurant a stone’s throw from the wonderful Piazza del Gesù Nuovo. In 2019 it was the turn of the hilly district of Vomero and, a year later, of the Tandem workshop, where traditional local long-cooked sauces can also be purchased in long-life jars. With time, the Neapolitan ragù was also joined by the Genoese one. A recipe rich in history and stories, which Manuela Mirabile tells like this. Starting again from her childhood.
The many stories of the Neapolitan Genoese
«Once upon a time, the scent of Genoese wine flooded the alleys of Naples starting on Saturday afternoon, with its unmistakable almost caramelized scent, and walking through the city you could already taste Sunday lunch, that warmth of the family gathered at the table».
The Genoese in Naples is the perfect symbol of the art of being together which is passed down from generation to generation. Each family has its own recipe and its variations that make it unique, but we all agree on a fundamental ingredient: time. «Genoese is an act of love and patience – continues Manuela Mirabile – you have to cut the onions very thin and leave them cook with the meat for eight or nine hours, until they fall apart into a creamy, tender and delicate whole. Perfect to accompany it are the ziti, to be broken strictly by hand, this is how the «recchietelle» are created, those small fragments of pasta that mix wonderfully with the sauce at the end of the dish. The shoe is mandatory! In the restaurant I also wanted to put it on the menu, so you can simply receive it at the table small bowl of sauce and slices of “rude” breadjust like at home.”
Another variant to taste the Genoese is in the “Cuzzetiello”, a half loaf of “palatone” bread hollowed out from the crumb to be filled with meat in sauce up to the edge. It was the snack that your grandmother prepared for you to go to the stadium on Sunday afternoon, and thanks to our recovery it has become a true star of Neapolitan street food. The variant with Genoese meatballs is also highly recommended, also excellent on the plate.
Finally, the stew resulting from long cooking, with the soft meat that falls apart on the fork, can also be served as a second course, perhaps accompanied by the typical broccoli a little bitter, contrasting with the sweetness of the caramelized onion. The combination I recommend is with soft wines, both white like Greco di Tufo that red, like the Taurasi.
«I cannot conclude this “praise of the sauce” without touching on its mystery. Nobody really knows why this dish is so typical of the Neapolitan tradition it’s called “Genoese”. There are more or less imaginative stories and legends that set sail from the port of Naples galleons that never existed towards naval battles that never happened, but beautiful to imagine; and there is much more well-founded historical research that follows his traces in gastronomic treatises, on his side first appearance in the mid-1500s until its definitive affirmation in the most illustrious recipe books of the 19th century. But despite everything, her name is still a secret – and perhaps ultimately it is right that it remains so, like the recipe, the real one, that my grandmother gave me.”
«When I was about to open the Tandem and I asked her:
“What meat do you use?”
She replied “the one the butcher gives me”.
“And what onions do you put in them, grandmother?”.
“The ones the greengrocer gives me”, she replied…
But then, finally, he revealed to me the mysteries that he had so jokingly kept hidden, and it is this special flavor that I love to share, again and again, welcoming guests from all over the world into this big family, at the table set Neapolitan Sunday».
The recipe for Neapolitan Genoese
Ingredients for 6 people: [Le varianti sono tante quante le ricette di famiglia! Segnaliamo le principali tra parentesi quadre, da sperimentare a proprio gusto]: 2 kg of red onions from Tropea, or golden ones from Montuoro, 2 kg of adult beef stew (belly, shoulder and/or armour, to taste) in cuts of approximately 4×4 cm [Variante 1: Combinando manzo e maiale si ottiene una genovese meno delicata ma più morbida e cremosa Variante 2: 1 carota e 1 sedano a pezzetti per il soffritto]; 2 glasses of wine (red or more frequently white, certainly dry); 1 glass of EVO oil, fine salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste; 800 g of ziti (also called candles) broken by hand; pecorino seasoned to taste.
Method: Peel and cut the onions into slices as thin as possible. Heat the oil in a pan and add the meat and onions (if you prefer the sautéed version, first fry the diced carrot and celery). Cover and leave to cook for about an hour, until the onions are completely softened and their liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the meat. Add the wine and salt, let it evaporate, lower the heat to minimum and leave to cook for 7-8 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pan, until you have reached the creamy consistency and the meat has not largely fallen apart, taking care to leave some pieces intact. Season the boiled ziti al dente and, if desired, sprinkle with pecorino and black pepper.
Where to taste Tandem’s Neapolitan Genoese
Via Paladino 51 – Naples
Via Benedetto Croce 48 – Naples
Calata Trinità Maggiore 12 – Naples
Via mezzocannone 75 – Naples
Via Sezzo di Porto 51 – Naples
Via Bernini 74b – Naples
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Source: Vanity Fair
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