Goodfellas is about gangster Henry Hill, told through the eyes of Ray Liotta, and the story is as compelling as the food. Lots of films depicting Italian families feature food prominently, but Goodfellas uses food to enhance the storyline. Henry and his family — Mrs. DeVito, Tommy, Jimmy — cook and eat while they recap the days events: stories of corruption, drugs and murder. The mouthwatering food is as intoxicating as their crimes. The misdeeds are as familiar as the meatballs.
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is the prison meal, where wise-guy associate Paulie slices garlic with a razor blade. Paulie wants the garlic super thin, almost transparent, so it melts in the pan. The garlic is for the tomato sauce, a meaty blend of beef, veal, pork, onions and tomatoes. On the side? A chargrilled, aged hanger steak cooked medium rare, red and white wine, fresh Italian bread, salami, prosciutto, lots of cheese and Scotch. In prison? Wise guys have connections.
In honor of the movie, I recreated the Goodfellas sauce. I used some culinary license to create a similar version, one that captures the essence of the sauce, with just a handful of really good ingredients. I also made a few changes. I’m pretty sure they used whole shanks of pork and veal in the movie. I used diced veal from a chop and pork sausage for its incredible flavor and fat content. (Veal is super lean so it balances out.) I didn’t use three onions because Paulie doesn’t like a lot of onions — I added just enough. I used two cans of tomatoes, just like the movie, but I used crushed tomatoes seasoned with Italian seasonings, so I could add tons of flavor in one step. Oh, and I grated the garlic since I was out of Paulie-style, straight-edge razor blades.
I hope you prepare this sauce, serve it with a chunk of Italian bread and eat while you watch the movie — in the comfort of your own home.
Just for fun, here's a link to the scene on YouTube.
Note: In the movie, Vinnie says pork is really important to the sauce and gives it lots of flavor. If you can’t find veal or want to dodge the hefty price tag, replace it with diced pork shoulder.
This sauce is like a thick stew, but it’s excellent served over pasta.
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