Rocco DiSpirito's Pasta Sauce Will Knock Your Socks Off

You might know Rocco DiSpirito from television or as healthy cookbook author. But the chef also remains passionate about the cuisine he first became known for - Italian - and so he stopped by recently to show us his take on a classic recipe, Paccheri alla Genovese. The sauce is a meat sauce but that designation is a misnomer - its power comes from the giant pile of onions that are encouraged to cook down over hours. This sauce is as easy as could be because it mostly just takes time to sit and cook. So if you are in need of something warming for the cold weather, this recipe is it.

If you didn’t catch Rocco during his time at the Standard Grill, where he was chef until recently, then you can tide yourself over by watching the video below and then running to make the recipe.

Paccheri alla Genovese
Serves 6-8

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery rib, trimmed and roughly chopped
1⁄4 pound jamon or pancetta, chopped
2 1⁄4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 1⁄4 pounds white onions, sliced
2 stalks fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup dry white wine, plus more if desired
1 pound dried pasta, like Paccheri or rigatoni
Finely grated Parmesan cheese
Whole butter
Italian Parsley

Heat half the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat; stir in the carrots, celery and jamon, and cook for 4 minutes. Add the beef, then cover with the onions. Pour the remaining oil over the onions, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and rosemary. Cover, bring to a simmer and cook gently until the beef is tender, about 2 hours; the onions will release a good deal of liquid.

Uncover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring more frequently as the liquid reduces and lowering the heat as necessary to prevent scorching, until the meat has fallen apart and the sauce is creamy, about 45 minutes. Stir in the wine and taste, adding more wine if desired. Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is glossy and quite thick, about 15 minutes more.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and toss with the sauce. Stir in Butter and Parmesan to taste, garnish with parsley, then serve.