Pot roast with Genovese sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Pot roast with Genovese sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Enrich your holiday or Shabbat pot roast with Genovese onion-wine sauce

My favorite souvenir from a trip is an idea for a recipe. During a recent visit to Italy, I tasted a beefy onion and wine pasta sauce in Naples. Genovese sauce is rich and full flavored, and I thought it would make a great holiday or Shabbat pot roast (or brisket). The result is perfect for serving over latkes, pasta or steamed or mashed potatoes.

Why a traditional Neapolitan sauce is known as Genovese is unclear, especially since Genoa is more than 400 miles from Naples. Stories range from the fanciful (Genovese sailors brought the sauce to Naples during the Renaissance) to the prosaic (it was created by a Genovese chef in Naples).

Locals agree it’s made with long-cooked onions and white wine, but then recipes diverge. I add in a few other ingredients and braise all ingredients together. The dish tastes even better if made a day in advance.

See pressure cooker and electric multicooker options (below).

Pot Roast with Onions in the Style of Genovese Sauce

Serves 8

  • ¾ tsp. ground black pepper, divided, plus more as needed
  • ¾ tsp. salt, divided, plus more as needed
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 3½  lbs. boneless beef chuck roast or brisket
  • 2 Tbs. oil, plus more as needed
  • 3 lbs. onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • ½ tsp. crumbled dried oregano leaves
  • 4 Tbs. tomato paste, divided
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Chopped parsley

Mix together ¼ tsp. each pepper, salt and paprika. Rub over meat. Heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven (cut meat to fit if necessary). Brown meat 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer meat to plate.

Add oil if needed. Add onions. Sauté 3 minutes. Stir in celery and carrots. Sauté until onions are softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in ½ tsp. each pepper and salt, along with oregano and 2 Tbs. tomato paste. Stir well. Remove half the onion mixture and set aside.

Return meat and any accumulated juices to pot on top of remaining half of the onions. Place set-aside onions on top of meat. Pour in wine. Bring to a simmer. Cover, and lower heat to keep at simmer. Cook 3-4 hours (timing varies), turning meat and onions occasionally (keep meat covered with onions). Meat is done when a fork pierces it all the way through without resistance. Remove meat. Let cool at least 20 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain, or shred.

Raise heat under liquid in pot. Bring to a strong simmer or low boil. Stir in remaining 2 Tbs. tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, until onions and liquid are about equal in amount (10-15 minutes). Taste. Add salt and or pepper as needed. Return meat to sauce. Cook until heated through over medium heat. Serve with sauce garnished with parsley.

If making recipe in advance, wrap and refrigerate onion sauce and unsliced meat separately for up to 3 days. Slice or shred meat. Reheat sauce over medium heat (add water by the tablespoon. if needed). Add meat. Cook until heated through.

Stove-top pressure cooker option: After adding wine, lock lid. Bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. Keep at high pressure for 45 minutes, lowering heat as needed. Carefully release pressure. If meat is not tender, reseal, and bring back to high pressure for 15-20 minutes. Release pressure. Check for tenderness.

Electric multicooker (Instant Pot) option: Use sauté function on high to brown meat and cook onions. After adding wine, lock lid. Set to high pressure. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour. Carefully release pressure. If meat is not tender, reseal, and bring back to high pressure for 15-20 minutes. Release pressure. Check for tenderness.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].