If I had to pick a movie that reminds me of where I grew up it would be Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas; a film which chronicles mobster life in New York City. Though not connected to the mob, I did grow up in an Italian American neighborhood in Philadelphia similar to the one depicted in the film. Family was important, as was food and of course being Italian.
With this year being the 25th Anniversary of Goodfellas, I decided it was time to watch the movie again. In planning I came up with the idea of "A Dinner In A Movie;" basically an excuse to have friends over and recreate a classic food scene from a favorite film. I decided to recreate the prison dinner scene in Goodfellas...right down to the translucent garlic cut with a razor blade. For those that don't know this movie the prison meal is a classic Italian American feast that the mob boys cooked up while doing time behind bars.
Even if you haven't seen the movie, though I highly suggest you do, this pasta is perfect for feeding a crowd. The recipe below was adapted from Dave Watts, head chef at The Cotswold House Hotel. It may not be the exact recipe used in the movie but it certainly reminded me of countless meals I ate growing up.
Is there "A Dinner In A Movie" you would like to see me recreate? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Prison Tomato Sauce
2-3 onions peeled and finely diced
1/2 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork shoulder
1 cup chicken stock
5 cloves garlic peeled
1/2 cup white wine
1 28 ounce can tomato puree
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
salt & pepper
1 lb pasta
In a large frying pan, over high heat add oil and fry both the ground beef and pork in separate batches, ensure your pan is really hot to get a good color on all of your meat. Drain each batch of meat into a colander, over a bowl to catch any juices.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add diced onion and a teaspoon of salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and turn down to a medium low heat, stirring it every three to five minutes. Keep cooking this until the onions are completely soft and translucent. This will take around 25 – 30 minutes.
Once you have fried your last batch of meat, place it all back into a pan over medium heat and add your finely sliced garlic. Cook this for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to break down. Now add the white wine, boil and reduce to almost nothing, then add the stock. Turn your heat up high and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half.
Add your canned tomatoes stir and place the lid back onto the pan and cook on a really low slow heat for 2-3 hours. Finally add a pinch of salt and the ground black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning to your liking.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate the noodles, and cover the pot. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink.
Pour the pasta into a large bowl and spoon about two-thirds of the sauce over it. Gently toss the pasta and sauce to coat evenly. Add more sauce as needed. Serve immediately.