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What do Italians know about Barbecue Anyway?

As with most Americans, we love to eat and taste dishes from all different regions. As a cook, you learn to reference basic recipes, test them then twist them to make it your own.

Now, we’re not Italian. But we do know good flavors when we taste them. We ate this dining out one evening and decided to make it ourselves.

The Tradition of preserving meats (whether with salt or smoke) goes back to the beginning of time. Our love of Barbecue goes deep. We have experimented for decades with many classic dishes to make them ours and want to share our recipes with you.

Just because the BBQ Season has ended, that does not mean our smokers stop for the winter. We love to continue smoking 2-3 times a week, cooking in batches and saving our meats for future cooks.

One great recipe is Pasta ala Genovese, It’s an Italian Stew from Naples, with a twist. We use smoked meat.

This is such a great Braise and can lead you to tweak for other Cultural Recipes like Mongolian Beef.

Beef and Onion Ragu (Ala Genovese) Recipe

Classic Genovese Ragu Stew Americanized.
Yield Serves 6-10
Active Time 30 min
Total Time 2-2 1/2 hrs
Categories: stews, ragu, smoked meat, sauce


1 to 1 1/4 lb Beef Chuck* – cut into 1″ pcs
2 1/2 lbs Onions – julienned
1 rib Celery – diced
1 clove Garlic – fine dice
1/3 cup Oil
2 tbs Tomato paste
3 cups Beef broth
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Marjoram
2 tsp Cornstarch
Worcestershire (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese


Season Beef with Salt and Pepper (or your favorite Rub). Brown the Beef in oil and remove from the pan. Add onions and celery, saute for 5-6 minutes, add garlic and tomato paste for 1 minute. *Return Beef to the pan. Add Beef Broth, Bay leaf, Thyme and Marjoram. Stir. Cook stovetop on low 1 1/2-2 hours or until meat is tender. Add 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire. Add cornstarch premixed in 4 tbs water to thicken (slurry) as desired. Garnish with grated cheese. Serve with your favorite Pasta or Rice.


TIP: Traditional recipes use added Bacon or Proscuitto for Smokey flavor. You can use Beef Chuck that has been smoked low and slow over your favorite hard wood for 2-3 hours, Braise in Sauce, then dice or pull and add to Stew. Or add more Worcestershire or Smoke in a bottle to taste. Carrots are also used Traditionally but we have a family member who is allergic so we leave them out.

Preferred Method: Replace 1 cup of the Beef Broth with 1 cup of pureed French Onion soup for a more concentrated flavor profile.

Ragu’s, Soups and Stews are such a hardy, homey meal. They are the ultimate comfort foods. They are inexpensive and easy to make. Even in a slow cooker! Born of necessity, with the mindset of depression cooking (taking a little and making it stretch) these recipes can feed a family of 6-10 for under $10.00. Or is great for 2 with lots of leftovers that freeze well.

Once you try it, you’ll want to pour it all over your next Brisket!


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