The Genovese

Arts & Culture
50 years

28 May, 2020

The Genovese

This original quarantine recipe was invented in the 16th century when the Black Plague was ravaging Italy and Europe. A ship from Genoa carrying a cargo of onions was stopped at the docks in Napoli and placed under a 40-day quarantine. With little to eat on board apart from onions, sympathetic Neapolitans tossed the sailors some second-choice cuts of old meat and of course, pasta. The Genovese dish was invented using these ingredients and it is just as good today as it was back then, maybe better! 

This recipe needs a cooking time of 5-6 hours, so patience is required. Believe us, it’s worth it!




  • 1 kilo beef shank
  • 3 kilos of sliced onions
  • 2 carrots 
  • 1 celery stick
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 8-9 peppercorns
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Olive oil




Sear the beef shank with some olive oil in a large pot. Remove beef and add the sliced carrots and celery to the oil. Lightly saute the vegetables. 

Add half of the sliced onions to the pot, place the seared beef shank on top and then the rest of the onions. Make sure the heat on the stove is very low. The dish will simmer for 5-6 hours. 

Add the peppercorns and cherry tomatoes and cover the pot. Leave for half an hour before checking on the pot and stirring the ingredients lightly if needed. Check every hour after this.

After three hours, you can add the cup of white wine and remove the meat. Mash any remaining pieces of the carrots and celery.

Allow to simmer a further 2-3 hours. The sauce should turn a lovely brown. Add the meat, broken in chunks and mix the sauce into a pasta of your choice: penne or pacheri are most commonly used. Garnish with grated parmesan if desired. The meat can also be eaten separately as a second.

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