07.09.11: dinner (henry hill’s take on italian-american cuisine)

Halftime Linguine with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Anchovies and Grana Padano

Do you have a movie that, when it pops up while browsing through cable channels on a lazy/hot/rainy/whatever weekend afternoon, you absolutely have to watch it even though you’ve seen it a million times already and it’s not going to be nearly as good as watching your copy on DVD because they have to edit out all of the cursing/violence/etc. to show it on TV but you don’t care and watch it anyway?

For me, that film is Goodfellas.  No matter the channel–if it’s on and I’m home, I’m probably watching it. And yelling out quotes as they pop up:

Here you’re resting?

Nah nah, you insulted him a little bit.

Two cans–two big cans!

Some red wine…OK. Now we can eat.

Into the oven you’ll go head-first!

I’m stirrin’ it, I’m stirrin’ it!

Please stop feeding the dog from the table… from the plate on top of it!

Halftime Linguine with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Anchovies and Grana Padano

Don’t get me wrong–I love the big iconic chunks of dialog too, but I think what makes this movie so rewatchable for me are the little, seemingly throwaway lines that make all of the characters a little more human, a little more realistic. This is a movie about real people, after all.

The other big draw for me? All of that glorious, glorious food. The scene of Henry and Paulie cooking in jail is my all-time favorite depiction of the act of cooking on-screen, and I can tell you that Michael definitely nicked his fingers a few times when trying to slice cloves of garlic that thinly when we were in college and making a lot of red sauces:

It’s come on at least once since we moved to our new place, and since seeing it my normal craving for Italian turned into a monster craving for Italian-American. Fortunately, the real Henry Hill’s cookbook is in our collection–as it should be in yours if you love this food too. Not only is it filled with great recipes, but also many tips on how to “fake it” when certain foods aren’t available at your market, and it’s all wrapped up in a memoir-lite structure that makes for a fast, entertaining read.

Come to think of it, it kind of resembles a blog only in book form. Which means you absolutely must own it.

Veal Chops with Sage

The best part of the book is the post-Goodfellas period during his time in the Witness Protection Program, because he’s so out of his element but he still makes it work. His “Halftime Linguine” doesn’t resemble any standard Italian-American dish by any means, but it’s incredibly Italian in its origin, because he’s working with what he has and uses the flavors he can find in an Omaha supermarket in the seventies. The idea that this Italian guy was cooking during the first two quarters of an American football game is so hilarious to me because it’s so not the normal societal norm of that period, but once everyone tasted the food they didn’t care one way or the other anyway. It’s also quite easy to prepare–even more so these days with supermarkets now stocking more things in their ethnic sections–so you can serve it during football halftime…or any time you’re in the mood for deliciousness.

Halftime Linguine

adapted from The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run

  • 1 lb linguine pasta
  • 1/4cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 6 anchovy fillets in oil
  • 3/4  cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
  • ground black pepper or crushed red pepper
  • Grana Padano, grated, for serving
Bring a pot of four quarts of water to a boil; add pasta and reserve a cup of the starchy water. In the meantime, heat the olive oil into a skillet over medium low heat and add the garlic and cook for a minute.Add the anchovies with a little of their oil and mash them into the pan until they melt into the oil. Add in the tomatoes, parsley, 1/2 cup of the reserved water and some pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring. Add the linguine and toss, adding more pasta water if needed, and serve immediately with Grana Padano.
  1. Goodfellas rocks! I seriously love that movie. And the pasta ain’t bad, either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s