Genovese Sauce

Completed Genovese sauce
Completed Genovese sauce

I love this butter based sauce so much and everyone who ever ate it at our house always asked for the recipe, but I don’t think they ever made it. I could tell by their eyes as my mother was reciting the recipe that they already were thinking “Why did I ask ?” Maybe they felt anxious about all the vegetable chopping, all the veal browning and all the extra butter, when, in reality, this  is the most marvelous, memorable pasta sauce you will ever make. Yes it does call for butter and veal, but it is not for everyday.

It is when you want to impress your boss, make your boyfriend propose, or ask your husband for money. You WILL get what you want after serving pasta with genovese sauce.


2 to 3 carrots

2 medium onions

2-3 stalks of hearts of celery including the fresh green leaves

1 lb white mushrooms

1 pkg dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1/2 cup warm water(optional)

1 stick salted butter

2 cups water

1 lb thin veal cutlets, slightly pounded between sheets of waxed paper

1 large veal shoulder chop, bone in or 2 veal shanks (like for osso bucco)

Olive oil for browning

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Butcher string to tie up the veal rolls

To prepare:


Blog pictures of Genovese Sauce 012Take out the mushrooms. the carrots, celery and onions and place them on a large wooden chopping board. If you are using the dried porcini mushrooms, take them out of the package and place them in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Put your food processor near by and get out a large chopping knife and vegetable scraper.



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Scrape the carrots, cut them in medium chunks and place in the bowl of the food processor. Peel and coarsely cut up the medium onions and place them in the food processor. Coarsely chop the tender stalks of celery hearts and the leaves and add them to the processor. Pulse the vegetables 3 0r 4 times until they are finely chopped, but not a paste.

Blog pictures of Genovese Sauce 019Cut up the white mushrooms and put them in a bowl and set aside. Drain the porcini mushrooms (the ones you were soaking in 1/2 cup of water) into a small sieve held over an empty cup. Save the now sand free liquid. Chop up the porcini mushrooms. Set aside.

Take out the veal cutlets and veal chop or veal shanks. Pat them dry with paper towels and season on all sides with sea salt and pepper. Roll up each cutlet and tie in the middle with string. Cut the string after knotting it. Salt and pepper the chop or shanks.

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Put two or three tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in the dutch over and heat over medium high heat until the butter is foaming and the oil is shimmering. Brown the veal rolls 3 or 4 at a time. Brown on one side, then turn and brown the other. (2 to 3 minutes per side). Take out the rolls and add more oil or butter if needed as you continue to brown all the meat on both sides. Place in a bowl.

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Wipe out the dutch oven of extra oil. Add  two more tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil and heat until butter foams and oil is shimmering. Add the chopped vegetables and saute until the onions are soft and translucent and the carrots slightly softened.

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Stir in the chopped mushrooms and stir until they release their liquid and darken. Sometimes I put the pot lid on for a few minutes if the mushrooms aren’t cooperating. This makes them release their liquid and darken.

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Add 1/2 stick butter and stir it into the vegetables until it is melted. Add the water and the chopped dried porcini and porcini water, if using the porcini. Put back the browned meats.Stir all together, bring to a simmer and then lower the heat to barely simmering.

Cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Check tenderness of veal and see if it is cooking too fast. You do not want the water to boil away because adding more water weakens the flavor. Only add 1/4 cup water at that time. Then, simmer  for 30 more minutes and check again. You can add 1/4 cup water at that time. If you have boiled away the water and don’t know what to do, you can add some chicken stock to keep the liquid level at about two cups, but I hate adding stock because it does change the delicacy of the sauce; however, it will still taste delicious.

When the veal is tender, turn off the heat. Place the sauce in plastic or ceramic containers and chill in the fridge until dinner time. Reheat and serve over penne or other favorite pasta. It is also good over risotto.

Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese (preferably reggiano) over the top. This sauce freezes well and is enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta. It also doubles well by using the same amount of meat, but doubling the butter, vegetables, and water, or at least that is how I do it.

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Genovese Sauce
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