Foodie Movie Friday: Goodfellas (with red sauce recipe)

Goodfellas. In our opinion, one of the best movies of all time, and one we can watch over and over. Good thing, too, since lately it seems to be on AMC every day! As you probably know, it's not a movie about food, but about a group of friends who work their way through the hierarchy of the Italian Mafia in New York during the 1960's and 70's. However, food has a supporting role in the movie, as it does in the lives of most Italians we know. Here are the top three food scenes we love from Goodfellas, followed by a recipe inspired by one of the scenes. Mangia!

First food scene we love:

It's well past midnight, and Jimmy, Henry and Tommy have just killed a made man. He's in the trunk of their car, still alive (unbeknownst to them). The boys decide to make a pitstop at the house of Tommy's mother (played by Martin Scorsese's mother, Catherine) to borrow a shovel. Like the good Italian momma she is, she putters around the kitchen to prepare some pasta so they can eat before going on their way (to bury a guy), saying, "I'll make you something to eat!" Mrs. Scorsese has since put out her own cookbook.

Second food scene we love:
Toward the end of the movie, Henry has been doing cocaine, is paranoid, and has a long list of errands to run, during which he keeps seeing a helicopter that he is convinced is following him (it is). In the meantime, he is trying to prep a huge meal at home: "You see, I was cooking dinner that night. I had to start braising beef, pork butt and veal shanks for the tomato sauce. It was Michael's favorite. I was making ziti with the meat gravy and I'm planning to roast the peppers over the flames and I was gonna put on some string beans with some olive oil and garlic and I have some beautiful cutlets that were cut just right that I was gonna fry up before dinner just as an appetizer..." While Henry runs his errands and is chased by helicopters, his brother is brusquely admonished, "...not to let the sauce stick - keep stirring it." It's 10:45 p.m. by the time the family sits down to dinner. But what a meal!

Third food scene (the one we love the most):
Henry and Paulie are in prison, but they are seen in a small room with a few other "wiseguys" and plenty of ingredients to make dinner (including steak and lobster). As Paulie preps and Vinny cooks, Henry narrates: "...he had this wonderful system for doing the garlic. He used a razor and he used to slice it so thin that it used to liquefy in the pan with just a little oil. It was a very good system." They make the meatballs with veal, beef and pork, because the pork is "where the flavor is." When the scotch and red wine arrives, Paulie announces, "Okay, now we can eat." Apparently prison for "goodfellas" is a little different from prison for everyone else.

We love that last scene so much, whenever we need a good red sauce, we use Paulie's system:


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves (sliced with a razor, naturally)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine (we like a deep red Valpolicella)

In a deep cast iron skillet (this is key), place the sliced garlic. Add the olive oil and heat over medium heat until garlic begins to liquefy. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, and cook, stirring (remember to stir the sauce!), until onions become translucent. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer for another 15-20 minutes and serve over pasta, with or without meatballs.


jck said...

All this time I thought I knew you, but I had no idea. :)

Anonymous said...

The part when they're in prison is my most favorite mob movie scene ever! I've managed to get my garlic very thin but not thin enough for it to melt. Must practice. What a fun post. This movie is truly a classic.

Dina McNally said...

What size cans of tomatoes please?

Amy said...

We used 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes.