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Rigatoni Ragu alla Genovese

This dish uses a thick beef sauce without tomatoes but with lots of onions. It is widely believed that this sauce is not from Genoa but from Naples. Apparently, “alla Genoese” was a style of cooking in the 19th century where some pasta sauces used meat. But decades before “alla Genoese” became popular country-wide, Neapolitan ragù sauces had already been using beef sauces with onions. Traditionally, the sauce is poured over “paccheri,” a large tube-shaped pasta. A “sister” sauce – “Ragù alla Napoletana” — is similar to “alla Genovese” but with the addition of tomatoes.

A bowl of Rigatoni Ragu alla Genovese

Rigatoni Ragu alla Genovese Recipe

(Serves About 4-6)



  • 1 ½ lbs of Dry Rigatoni

  • 2 lbs Beef Chuck, or Top Sirloin (Cut into 1 Inch Dice)

  • 2 Red Onions (Sliced as thinly as possible – I do this with a mandolin)

  • 2 Gloves Garlic (Minced)

  • 2 Cups Beef Stock

  • 2 Carrots (Diced)

  • 2 Ribs Celery (Diced)

  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil (For Cooking – does not need to be EVOO)

  • ½ Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (For Garnish)

  • ¼ Cup Parsley (Finely chopped for Garnish)               

  • ¼ Cup Dry White Wine

  • Ground Black Pepper

  • Kosher Salt



  1. Heat olive oil in a deep sided saucepan or Dutch oven.

  2. Brown the diced beef in batches, remove from the pan and reserve.

  3. Add the carrots and celery, sprinkle with salt and cook for 2-3 minutes.

  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

  5. Add the onions. Combine well and sprinkle with salt.

  6. Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes.

  7. Add the beef and the beef stock. Combine well.

  8. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 1 ½ hours at a low-medium heat.

  9. After 1 ½ hours, take the lid off the pan. Allow to simmer for a further ½ hour or until the meat is completely tender and the sauce is reduced by at least half.

  10. Add the white wine to your sauce.

  11. Check for seasoning. Add a good crack of black pepper and more salt, if needed. Set aside.

  12. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

  13. Add the rigatoni and cook according to instructions, usually around 12 minutes for al dente.

  14. Drain the pasta place in a bowl, sprinkle some salt on it and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

  15. Place pasta in individual bowls.

  16. Top with a good amount of the sauce.

  17. Sprinkle with parsley and a good handful of Pecorino Romano cheese before serving.

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