Godfather Pasta

I have a friend who is a film historian. He knows so much about movies and the people who made them that it is intimidating sometimes. A large number of years ago I was having dinner with him and his wife and it came up that I had never seen The Godfather. WHAT!  Never seen The Godfather???!!! He was compelled to fill the hole in my cultural foundation. And so we ate dinner and watched The Godfather.

During the movie, when everyone is gathered, waiting for word on status of Don Vito after he was shot, Clemenza shows the young Michael Corleone how to make pasta. Being a cooking sort of guy, I noticed that he was reciting the recipe as he was making it. And I thought: Wow, there’s a pasta recipe in The Godfather.

So, at some point later, I got ahold of the movie and played that scene a few times and wrote down the recipe as I heard it. Of course, I tweaked it a bit to suit myself, but here it the recipe as I make it, gleaned from an American classic.

Godfather Pasta


    • Olive Oil
    • 1 Large Yellow Onion
    • 2 – 5 Cloves Garlic (actual amount you use depends on your taste)
    • 1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage
    • 2 – 28 oz. Cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes
    • 3 – 4 tblsp. dry Basil (actual amount you use depends on your taste)
    • 2 Glugs Red Wine (about 1/2 cup)
    • 1 – 4 tsp. Crushed Chilies (Optional)
      (Actual amount you use depends on your taste and the hotness of the sausage.  These can make things pretty hot.)
    • 1 Bay Leaf (Optional)
    • 2 tsp. sugar (Optional)

Of course, you can substitute fresh ingredients for any dry or canned ingredients.

I usually use a big cast iron skillet to make this, for no good reason, just habit. I like cast iron. Any pot that can hold the ingredients will do.

1.    Chop up the Onion.  I like it real coarse.
2.    Chop the Garlic.
3.    Take the Sausage out of its skin and discard the skin.(Most people don’t like the skin.)
4.    Cover the bottom of the skillet with Olive oil and put on a burner with medium heat.
5.    Put in:

      • The Chopped Onion
      • The Garlic
      • The Bay Leaf

6.    Sauté until the Onion is starting to turn clear.
7.      Add the Sausage in little 1/2 inch blobs.
8.       Let the Onions and Garlic and Sausage cook until the Sausage is about 4/5 done.
9.       Pour in the Tomatoes.
10     Let it heat back up.
11     Put in the rest of the Stuff

      • Basil
      • 2 Glugs Wine
      • Crushed Chilies
      • Sugar

12     Let it heat up so that it bubbles pretty briskly.
13     Then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer.

Simmer time can vary.  After about 1/2 an hour it’s edible.  After an hour it’s real tasty.  After 2 or more hours it’s real good.  My rule for all this kind of stuff is “Let it simmer all day if you can.”

I most often do 1/2 hour, because I’m in a hurry, which makes this a great meal on the run.  Cook the pasta while you cook the sauce.  From start to finish, you could eat in less than an hour and just have a full stomach and a bunch of dirty dishes.

My other rule for spaghetti sauce in general is: Put the garden in there.

15.    Pour over pasta of any kind.  Make sure you cook it first.

If there is a lot of liquid in the sauce, pour it on the pasta and put grated cheese into the liquid on the plate.  That will thicken the liquid as is melts the cheese.  This works best when you have only let the sauce simmer for half an hour or so, because at that amount of time, excess liquid has not had time to evaporate.

Try it with Romano cheese.  The dryness is real good.

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