Sorry for the wait this week but hopefully you’ll find our offerings as delicious as ever as food and fiction meet in the ultimate culinary showdown.   Which dish will be the book that you can read over and over, or the movie that keeps you coming back for more: the Goodfellas Pasta Sauce with Braised Meats and Homemade Meatballs or the Winterfell Beef and Bacon Pocket Pies?

Goodfellas Pasta Sauce with Braised Meats and Homemade Meatballs


Food is not confined to the mere cameo role, in many of Martin Scorsese’s films, food plays an unusually dramatic part. In Goodfellas, a brutal mafia killing is followed by an alarmingly normal Italian-style meal, cooked and served by the director’s own mother, Catherine Scorsese. One of the most menacing of all food images in modern cinema occurs in prison, as the mafiosi prepare their ritual pasta sauce. The big boss, Paul Sorvino, had a wonderful system for doing the garlic. He used a razor blade to slice it so thin that it used to liquefy in the pan. Later, the central figure’s drug-fuelled paranoia is signalled by his obsession with the meatballs and tomato sauce he’s cooking as the FBI move in. ‘Keep and eye on the sauce and watch the helicopters’, is almost his last order before the Feds arrive.
This is simply a recipe you can’t refuse. Using a bit of creative license, and the availability of ingredients, I made a few tweaks to the original recipe but I think Paulie and Mrs. Scorsese would still be proud! In place of the veal, top round beef is skewered with garlic, seared and braised until it is falling apart. The juicy, tender braised meat, the flavorful sausages and the delicate and utterly delicious homemade meatballs make this hearty dish irrestiable! Garnish the pasta with some fresh parsley, freshly grated parmesan or percorino romano cheese, a slice of garlic bread, and a glass of vino. Throw on some classical Italian tunes and you have a fantastic night ahead of you!
Meat Sauce:
  • 2 lb. piece top round beef
  • 2 lb. italian pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 6 large garlic cloves or more, sliced “razor-thin” (you can see the knife through the garlic)
  • 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 28-oz. cans Italian-style tomatoes
  • 2 lb. mixture of ground veal, beef, and pork
  • 2 eggs
  • grated Locatelli and sardo cheeses
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped small
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • fresh parsley
  • garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • salt and finely ground red pepper
  • 5 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • bread crumbs if needed for consistency
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F
  2. Sear sausage and beef in a Dutch oven in olive oil until a golden brown. Put aside. Sauté onion and garlic cloves in the same pot until golden. Add tomato paste and 3 paste cans of water to pot. Put tomatoes through a sieve to get rid of seeds and add to pot. Cook on low flame.
  3. When sauce starts to bubble, add salt and red pepper to taste and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then from the bottom up. Divide sauce in half.
  4. Add the large pieces of beef and pork back to Dutch oven and submerge in divided sauce. Cover and place into oven and cook for two hours until meat is falling apart.
  5. Simmer remaining sauce in a large pot. Mix meatball ingredients together and roll into egg-size balls. Put raw meatballs in the sauce — do not fry them. When meatballs float to the top of the sauce (don’t stir until they do), they should be done. Simmer and stir a few more minutes.
  6. Remove pieces of veal and pork, slice, and serve as a side dish with meatballs. Serve sauce over spaghetti, garnish with freshly chopped parsley, freshly grated cheese and enjoy!
Winterfell Beef and Bacon Pocket Pies
If you haven’t read it or seen the adaptation on HBO, Game of Thrones is an epic fantasy series by author George R. R. Martin which spans seven books and has been published over the last 15 years.  Martin’s painstakingly researched and mapped out book follows dozens of main characters as their paths (and swords) cross over throughout the continent of Westeros.  Almost more impressive than the amount of detail that Martin lends to his characters and their lives is the amount of detail he pays to the epic feasts and small dinners alike that stud the book like the courses in a 77 course wedding feast.  There is so much foodiness in this series that there is even a COOKBOOK coming out based solely on the meals described in the book.  This week’s book-inspired feast comes from the tables of one of GOT’s main protagonist  families, the Starks and their castle at Winterfell in the cold North region of Westeros.  Bacon and beef pies were noted to be a favorite of the children at Winterfell and may prove to be the same with your family.  The sweetness of the parsnip and dried apricot play well with the unctiousness of the beef and the saltiness of the bacon.  The soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce cut the sweetness and give the mini pies a delectable richness.  If you’re feeling lazy and want to make these pocket pies quickly before heading out to Casterly Rock along the Kingsroad, you can try using store-bought pastry, but the recipe here (adapted from Alton Brown’s) is pretty quick and easy.

Pastry Shells

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons of lard
  • 3/4 cup of whole milk
  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add lard and mix in with your hands until grainy in texture.
  3. Add milk all at once and bring together with a spatula.
  4. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for until dough comes together.
  5. Use a rolling pin to roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
  6. Using a 3 inch ring, cut circles of dough out. (I was able to get about 20)
  7. Roll dough circles into approximately 6 inch diameter circles.

Beef and Bacon Filling

  • 1/4 pound of bacon, chopped
  • 2-3 large parsnips, diced to about 1/4 inch
  • 1 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1.5 pounds of stew beef, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1.5 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  1.  Saute bacon in a large pot over medium heat until fat  is rendered.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  2. Add parsnips and cook for 4-5 minutes (giving them a little bit of a head start will mean that they soften up before you add the rest of the ingredients).  Then add onion and apricots and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add stew beef and cook for 3-4 minutes (if chopped small enough this should be just enough to cook through).
  4. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of flower and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Increased heat to medium high and add beef stock and bacon.  Allow to come to a boil and thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Add soy and worcestershire sauces and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. If you allow this to come to room temperature (or even allow to cool in fridge overnight) it will be easier to make pastry shells.
  8. When ready to make your pocket pies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Use an egg wash to paint half of the lip of the circle that is closest to your.  Place 1-2 tablespoons of the beef and bacon mixture in the middle of the circle and fold over the un-egged side.  Use a fork to seal pie.
  10. Use a toothpick or sharp knife to cut some vents into the top of the pie.
  11. Cook for approximately 30 minutes on until well browned.  Enjoy.


2 responses

  1. Pingback: Celebrate the Holidays: Happy Pi Day! | 52 Week Cooking Challenge

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