Prison Gravy and MeatballsRECIPE 

Prison Gravy and Meatballs

My son bought me a cookbook with recipes inspired by films (can’t think of a more appropriate gift). One of the recipes was the prison gravy from Goodfellas. This is a modified version and includes the best recipe for meatballs I’ve made. Together… amazing. And shockingly easy. Oh, and make sure to have some sandwich rolls and cheese to make meatball subs with the leftovers.

Prison Gravy and Meatballs

The best meatballs in the best sauce. Sauce can be made on the stove or in a slow cooker. Meatballs can be made ahead and frozen.



  • 8 oz bulk ground prk
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 ts dried basil
  • 1 1/2 ts dried parsely
  • 1/2 ts Kosher salt
  • 1/2 ts red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs divided

Prison Gravy

  • 1/2 lb bulk ground sweet sausage
  • 1/2 lb bulk ground mild sausage
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 8 oz tomato paste
  • 16 oz can tomato sauce
  • 32 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 large basil sprigs chopped
  • 8 baby carrots chopped
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1 ts ground pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 1 ts garlic powder
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 cup beef broth (or meatball juice)
  • 16 oz rigatoni


For the Meatballs

  1. Heat the oven to 400°.

  2. Combine all ingredients (¼ cup of bread crumbs) in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Place a cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet.

  4. Mix with hands until all ingredients are well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

  5. Place the remaining ¼ cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl.

  6. Using clean hands, shape golf-ball-sized meatballs, roll in the breadcrumbs and place on cooling rack

  7. When ready to serve, drain pasta; serve in a bowl. Serve sauce and meatballs together.

  8. To reheat, simmer in water or broth for 10–20 minutes.

For the Prison Gravy

  1. In a large dutch oven, add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Break apart sausage and crumble into oil, cook until well-browned; remove to plate.

  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds; add onions and tomato paste; cook until onions are soft, about 4 minutes.

  3. Add wine and stir, combining all ingredients.

  4. At this point all can be done in slow cooker, low for 4–6 hours.

  5. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Return meat to pot with any juices and add carrots and basil; bring to a gentle simmer.

  6. Simmer 3 hours, stirring every 15–30 minutes; DO NOT let sauce burn.

  7. 90 minutes before serving, place meatballs in another pan with 2 cups water. Over high heat, bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook 27 minutes.

  8. Add 1 cup water from meatballs to sauce (or add beef broth); add butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. With a hand mixer, blend sauce until chunky, NOT smooth. Add water or broth as needed.

  9. Add meatballs and continue to simmer for another hour.

  10. In a large pot, boil water with salt. Add pasta. Cook until desired firmness.

  11. Cook 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through (or deep fry!).

  12. Serve immediately or let cool, bag and freeze.

A few notes:

  • Do not overcook the meatballs. Get them just done. They’ll have more time to cook while in the sauce.
  • You don’t have to roll the meatballs in the breadcrumbs. It’ll make the water they’re reheated in a bit cloudy and, subsequently, lighten the color of the sauce a bit. But they’re good that way.

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