Candele alla Genovese

Decadent, sweet, and rich: it’s Candele alla Genovese time. And don’t let the name fool you: Genovese is uncompromisingly Neapolitan! Genovese is a braised beef sauce usually prepared “in bianco” (without tomato). The copious amount of onions – one of the main ingredients in this recipe – gives the moisture necessary for a long, gentle cooking. We couldn’t resist adding a few Corbarino tomatoes right at the end of the cooking time. This way we reached a brighter, more vibrant, and balanced result. Candele (aka the mother of all pasta shapes) was created in Gragnano. Its thick, tubular shape is considered the perfect match for this creamy and satisfying meat sauce.


SERVES: 5-6 people
TIME: About 3 hours



  1. Season beef generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Set aside and let sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large, heavy pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add carrots and celery and cook until soft (about 4 minutes).
  3.  Add about 1/3 of the sliced onions, the tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of white wine. Cook and stir until the paste dissolves and onions are soft but not browned (other 3/4 minutes).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Arrange beef in the pot without overlapping the chunks. Add bay leaves, top the beef with the remaining onions, and cover.
  5. After about 10 minutes, uncover, season lightly with salt, and stir. Cover and cook at low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the vegetables and meat are not sticking to the bottom of the pot and onions have released their moisture (about 1 hour).
  6. After about 1 hour, crack the lid slightly and continue to cook, keeping a gentle and steady simmer, until the beef is tender (about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer).
  7. Discard the bay leaves, remove beef chunks from pot, and set them aside.
  8. Increase heat to medium then add the tomatoes and remaining 1/2 cup of wine. Meanwhile, break up the beef into smaller chunks, without shredding it too much.  Return the beef to the pot, and cook until the sauce reaches a thick consistency but without bursting the tomatoes (about 15 minutes).
  9. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Break Candele using the palm of your hands to create leverage and measure evenly each section.
  10. Cook Candele for about 6/7 minutes, then drain, saving 1 cup of cooking pasta water.
  11. Transfer pasta to the sauce, add 1/2 cup of cooking water, and increase heat to high. Sautee pasta until the sauce coats the Candele, adding more pasta water (1/4 cup at the time) as needed (about 2 minutes).
  12. Remove from heat, add parsley, stir rapidly, and serve grating on each plate some Vacche Rosse cheese.