As a Neapolitan, on special occasions we always used to eat a “Genoese”. This is a rich, lavish dish I particularly like because it brings to mind a series of childhood images and smells. The pot simmering on a low heat, the smell of onions that fills the kitchen while my cousins and I hide under the table, and my grandmother Giovanna, forever cheerful and kind.
My grandmother was from the Veneto region, but learned from her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother Maria, how to cook this kind of white ragout served with the typical Neapolitan “ziti” or as a sauce with meat.
It's called a “Genoese” sauce, although it has little to do with Genoa. This is a dish with controversial origins. Some say that “Genoese” was the name of a tavern in the harbour that invented this sauce by using simple ingredients such as onions to create a delicacy for tired sailors. Some say that “Genoese” was the surname of the chef who invented the recipe. According to others, renowned chefs on Bourbon ships were from Genoa and invented this dish with leftover ingredients from the storeroom.
Of the many stories, my favourite one is the story my grandfather Mario used to tell me. During the visit of a Genoese doge at the court of Frederick II, the chef created this dish by only using simple products as a way of teasing people from Genoa for their “stingy” origins. Indeed, the meat served with the dish was added only later.
Veal chuck: 1.5 kg in a single piece
Sliced white onions: 11
Sliced Napoli salami: 300 g
Sliced prosciutto: 300 g
Butter: 500 g
Extra virgin olive oil: 150 g
Salt as required
White wine: 1 glass
Put all the ingredients, except the wine, in a saucepan and add cold water until the meat is covered. Simmer with the pot partially covered for an hour and a half. For this step, ideally you would leave the pot on the cast iron plate of a wood-burning range cooker, as my grandmother Giovanna used to do.
Remove the veal from the pot and put it aside.
Blend the sauce thoroughly and reduce it over high heat. When it comes to the boil deglaze with the white wine and reduce for another 20 minutes.
At this stage, you have two dishes ready at the same time.
The first one is a superb, creamy sauce that will season the famous "ziti", though it's also good with short-cut pasta with a similar shape, such as smooth penne, paccheri and rigatoni. Then just a final sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to create a really sensational first course.
The second dish is a delicious and delightful roast, which should be served in slices by pouring the same sauce to go with it.
First studied Pharmacy for two years which enabled her to acquire the basics of nutrition and food chemistry. Then in Colorno (Parma), at the Academy of Italian cuisine of Gualtiero Marchesi (ALMA), she acquired not only the passion but also the professional skills for cooking and baking, mastering the techniques and acquiring the absolute knowledge of ingredients. Then Switzerland, Rome and the United States. Finally, the birth of a project, "her" project, named "Zero-Zero Hundred-hundred", completed in collaboration with Chiara Manzi, nutritionist and president of Association for National Safety in Cooking. The result is a program that was so well-liked that it transported her across the ocean to Los Angeles, where she worked as a consultant for a year, to create light menus in the most popular restaurant chains in America.
Elena is just 28 years old and her cooking is traditional and experimental at the same time.
Traditional because it always starts with simple ingredients and cooking process.
Experimental because every recipe has two versions: Hundred-hundred is the traditional one, without particular limitations, dedicated to those who do not have weight issues; Zero-zero is the version with as low a percentage of fat and sugar as possible, inspired by the "Dukan style", for those who struggle with weight but don't want to give up taste and the pleasure of eating in company.
Il Boscia Billi bistrot
In the heart of Padua, in via Boccalerie 5, with a beautiful location in Piazza della Frutta, Elena Boscia and her partner Alessandro Billi have created an intimate and refined environment, where you feel immediately at home. They greet you with a fresh welcome drink, water-based and flavoured with cucumber and lemon and spoil you with a balanced and ever-changing menu, composed of simple but far from trivial dishes.
From breakfast to dinner, Boscia Billi bistro is a place to return to often, even several times a week, without worrying about your wallet or weight.