here may be no better cooking scene in a movie than the one from Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. (Watch it here.)
After Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) gets pinched, he heads off to prison for wiseguys. Wiseguy prison is full of lobsters, scotch, and everything Henry and his crew need for a spectacular red sauce, including a razor blade “Paulie” Cicero (Paul Sorvino) uses to slice garlic.
I made one fix to the recipe, inspired by one of Henry’s fellow wiseguy inmates, Vinnie (played by Scorsese’s father, Charles). Vinnie says that it’s the pork that gives the sauce its flavor. I doubled down on the sausage and the veal from the recipe entirely. Vinnie’s right. The sausage was the highlight—and the (plentiful) leftovers made for one of the best subs of my life.
Make the recipe. Watch the movie. Don’t be a schnook.
Goodfellas Prison Meat Sauce with Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Catherine Scorsese, with the help of Vinnie
What you’ll need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. pork sausage links
1 medium onion, chopped small
5 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 28-oz. cans Italian-style tomatoes, strained through a sieve to remove seeds
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
1 lb. ground mixture of veal, beef, and pork
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus additional for serving
1 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
How to make it:
1. In a large pot over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the sausage and brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the onion and garlic to the same pot and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste, three paste cans of water, and the strained tomatoes. Adjust the heat to medium-low, add the salt, red pepper, and reserved pork. Simmer, stirring occasionally.
2. As the sauce simmers, make the meatballs: In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the ground meat mixture, egg, cheese, parsley, and 2 Tbsp of the simmering tomato sauce. If the mixture is still loose, add bread crumbs until everything sticks together. Roll them into egg-size balls and place them directly in the simmering sauce. Cook until the meatballs float, about 45 minutes/hour.
3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and meatballs. Serve the sauce over pasta, with the meats on top or on the side. Makes 6 servings.