Genovese sauce is a rich, onion-based pasta sauce from the region of Campania, Italy. Likely introduced to Naples from the northern Italian city of Genoa during the Renaissance, it has since become famous in Campania and forgotten elsewhere.
The sauce is unusual for the long preparation time used to soften and flavor the onions.
Despite its name, which means "in the style of Genoa," Genovese sauce is a principal pasta sauce of Naples and an important part of its culinary history, having been introduced to the city in the 15th or 16th centuries. The sauce may have been brought by Genovese immigrants or merchants, at a time when Genoa and Naples were two of Italy's most important ports. Genovese sauce is now unknown beyond Campania.
The sauce's use of onions may reflect a French influence, and resembles Boeuf à la mode. During the mid 19th century, ‘Salmon in Hollandaise and Genovese sauce’ was served in the Grand Véfour restaurant of the Palais-Royal in Paris as a luxury dish.
Genovese sauce is not to be confused with Pesto from Genoa and Liguria, nor with Salsa Genovese, a red wine and vegetable condiment for fish, nor with the sauce génevoise from Lake Geneva, again served with fish.
Genovese sauce is prepared by sautéing either beef, veal or pork in a large number of onions, for at least two but as many as ten hours. The onions are typically accompanied by minced carrots and celery in what is sometimes known as a mirepoix, and the sauce may be additionally seasoned using garlic, marjoram, and either bacon, prosciutto or lard.
The slow cooking of the onions is especially important for the sauce's flavor, and is facilitated by incremental additions of white wine, stock, or both. The sauce and accompanying pasta can be served with the meat from the sauce or separately, garnished with tomatoes, and topped with Parmesan or provolone cheese.
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