Prison Sunday Gravy from 'Goodfellas'

Prison Sunday Gravy from 'Goodfellas'

© Michael Rathmayer

Prison Sunday Gravy from 'Goodfellas'

Prison Sunday Gravy from 'Goodfellas'

© Michael Rathmayer

Sunday Gravy, meat cooked in tomato sauce, is a classic of Italian-American cuisine. Perhaps the most famous version is prepared right at the beginning of the film 'Goodfellas': Vinnie, Paulie and Johnny are in prison, but they don't seem to be doing too badly: in their spacious cell they prepare a feast. Pauli cuts garlic with a razor "so thin that it dissolves in the oil", Vinnie is responsible for the sauce ("Three small onions, two large cans of tomatoes, definitely pork for flavour.") and Johnny roasts a mighty steak. In between, a crate of lobster on ice is delivered to the boys' cell as a matter of course.

In the film it remains unknown whether the sliced garlic is meant for the Gravy or another sauce. Real Neapolitans never mix garlic and onion in a sauce – it's a strict either-or – but we just assume that different cooking laws apply in American prisons.

 

Ingredients (Serves 6)

3
tablespoon
lard or olive oil, plus extra as needed
300
g
marinated beef, such as shin or brisket, cut into large cubes
300
g
pork shoulder, cut into large cubes
300
g
veal, such as osso bucco, cut into large chunks
6
onions, chopped
10
clove
garlic, finely sliced
100
ml
white wine
250
ml
chicken or beef stock
4
large ripe tomatoes
4
bay leaves
salt
pepper
  • Season the beef and pork well on all sides.
  • Heat the lard or olive oil a large heavy-based pan (use one with a lid). When hot, working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, add the meat in a single layer and cook on all sides, turning, until the pieces have taken on a nice colour, then remove from the pan and and set aside. Repeat until all the meat is browned. 
  • In the same pan, fry the onion (add more fat if needed) over a low heat, stirring, until it is soft and golden, 15–20 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the white wine and turn up the heat. Simmer until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, then add the stock and tomatoes and roughly mash with a wooden spoon.
  • Return the meat to the pan, add the bay leaves, bring the sauce to the boil then turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the meat is buttery soft, 2–2.5 hours.
  • Serve some of the sauce with pasta as a primo, the rest with the meat as secondo. If necessary, serve a lobster afterwards.

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