The Lost Recipes of the Mob

First, a few disclaimers: Names, dates and locations have absolutely been changed for the safety of the real people involved in this story. It is absolutely true.

My wife and I were married in north San Diego County in the Spring of 2007. It was before the housing crisis hit, and it was before we had children, so we were happy, and still pretty young. I had a job at an internet company specializing in audience and data segmentation, and as near as I could tell at the time, it was mostly fraudulent. But they had a sweet ping pong table and an above average free snack deal, so life was good. They also paid me pretty well. My wife taught 2nd grade a fancy private school for wealthy families, so her life was also good. We lived in a rented, one story house in the nicer part of Del mar, a swank beach community. Our house up on a hill a few miles from the beach, but we spend the weekend biking, walking our dog, enjoying the beach and boozing with our friends. We were pretty normal 30 somethings.

About 2 months after we were married and moved into our house, we noticed a neighbor of ours. He was in his early 60s and began waving to us as we came and left, and was general smiling and friendly. One Sunday afternoon we bumped into him at the supermarket and we introduced ourselves. His name was Carmine. Carmine was a cool looking guy. He had slicked back dark hair, a nice suntan and a some quality threads. He also was wearing, the day we met him, the sweetest white loafers you’ll ever see. At any rate, he was stocking up on some pretty fancy ingredients, and my wife asked him if he was cooking for someone. He said only for himself and his dog, and then promptly invited us over for dinner the following Sunday. We accepted.

As the following Sunday approached, we considered cancelling (it was along hot day at he beach) but showed up at his house at 6:30 with a bottle of $25 Chianti. Carmine answered the door, and we were hit with an array of sensations: Auditory (Frank Sinatra), visual (a gold necklace, and open collared shirt, graying chest hair) and olfactory (exquisite aromas of pasta dishes, mixed in with cheap cologne). Carmine, whatever and whomever he was, was authentic if nothing else.

That night he made us a fantastic meal of antipasti, pasta, salad and more pasta. We drank our wine and bunch more of his. One of which was an expensive Barolo. We rolled out of there and fell into a deep coma, barely able to wake for the Monday morning bell. About 2 weeks later we did it again, and thus began a weekly tradition that lasted about a year, with a few missed Sundays. We would watch football during the Fall, and gorge ourselves on incredible food. As we drank and ate and got to know each other, Carmine would start surprising us with new parts about himself. One time he broke out a giant joint that we smoke between courses. He told us that would help us regain our appetite for the next two courses. The meals got finer and more fun and the wine got fancier. Once we had house guests and brought them over. Another time we invite some local friends to enjoy Carnie’s hospitality. He was something else.

All this time, my wife was quizzing him on how he was able to make such amazing meals, and he told us his mother taught him how to cook when he was a young man. This lead to question about his upbringing, and he told us he was from Philadelphia. And, in a stunning disclosure straight out My Blue Heaven, he confessed that he was a former mobster turned government witness, and that he was in ‘The Program’. Carmine was a real life member of the mob, living in secret 4 doors down from us in Del Mar. You can’t make this stuff up.

As our friendship with Carmine evolved, he slowly began divulging certain culinary tricks that made his plate special. The Marsala sauce had a dash of plum sauce, the Pesto had a pinch of walnuts, and the Bolognese has a bit of ground sausage from Italy. Eventually my wife got pregnant, I lost my job, and before we knew it we were off to San Francisco for our next adventure. At our farewell dinner with Carmine, he gave me copies of some of his recipes after we promised not to share with anyone. But later via email after his mother had passed away, he agreed to let me share them with the world. So here you go, in no particular order, the 4 greatest lost recipes of the Mob.

Veal Marsala

You can eat this over veal or pasta, it really doesn’t matter. The sauce is what is so special.

  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil (use the good stuff from Europe)
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • ½ pound mushroom stalks (don’t use the caps, just the stumps or stalks)
  • ½ cup Marsala wine
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 ½ cups beef stock
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of plum sauce

Heat up olive oil in a sauce pan, add in garlic, onion, mushrooms stalks. Sauté mushrooms for 2 minutes on low heat, add in flour, and then a minute later add in wine and stock. Cook until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste

Classic Pesto Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Percorino cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Combine basil, garlic, pine but and walnuts in a food processor and chop. Add in ½ cup of the oil and blend until smooth. Add salt & pepper to taste. Stir in remaining olive oil and cheese right before consumptions

Lousie’s Bolognese

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion, medium sized
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • ¾ pound ground beef
  • ¼ pound Italian sausage
  • 1 large can (28 oz.) of crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pecorino cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Stir in garlic and onion, sauté until soft. Add in celery and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. Raise heat and stir in ground beef and sausage, cook for about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, parsley and basil leaves. Lower heat and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in Pecorino cheese.

Just Add Sauce

If you and your family resolved to eat healthier this year, you probably began by basing your dinners around grilled chicken and vegetables, occasionally adding whole-grain starches like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. All too soon, you find you’ve either fallen off of the healthy eating wagon, or else dread the boring chicken and veggies on your dinner table every night! Luckily, stepping up your dinnertime game for delicious results can be as simple as tweaking recipes that are based around one sauce. (And we promise they won’t derail your healthy eating!). Here, we’ll show you some new ways to use tomato sauce in a variety of dishes to surprise and delight your taste buds.

For a quick and easy dinner -- or even an afterschool snack -- make English Muffin pizzas. Simply preheat your oven, split English muffins in half, and then top with sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake around 10 minutes at 375 F, or until the cheese melts. We give it an A-plus in ease and taste.


For a fresh spin on chicken, whip up this Chicken and Wild Mushroom Pilaf recipe, made with chicken drumsticks, green peas, mushroom and herb rice pilaf mix, with tomato sauce. You’ll be surprised at how the rice absorbs the sauce in the skillet, and how this tomato base helps add a new flavor dimension to historically ho-hum chicken and rice dishes. Plus, it’s a new and delicious way to incorporate chicken and veggies into a dish that doesn’t feel tired.

Whether you love slow-cooker chili or make a faster version on the stovetop for a one-dish dinner, use tomato sauce as your base. Simply add it to the beef and bean combo, then add paprika, chili flakes, chilies, jalapenos or other seasonings to make it as spicy or seasoned as you’d like!

Tex-Mex may not be an obvious thought for a healthy weeknight meal. So you may be surprised that no salt added tomato sauce can be a great base for slow-cooker Southwest Beef and Bean Burritos. The sauce keeps the beef moist and tender for tasty tortillas!

Pizza with Pizzazz? Yes, Please!

Pizza is a favorite meal in pretty much everyone’s home. And while a typical slice may satisfy, pizza is the type of food that can be tweaked in endless ways. Whether you get creative with the toppings, the dough or the entire concept, it’s easier than you may think to make your everyday pizza recipe feel special (and even more nutritious). That’s why we’ve rounded up these recipes.

Beany Mini Pizzas
While burgers and pizza are both famous as comfort foods, combining them may seem a bit of a stretch. Not so! Beany mini pizzas utilize Italian sausage, ham and beans, and pepper jack cheese atop English muffins to give this dinner a sloppy-joe feel.

Artichoke Turkey Pizza
Who says pizza can’t be nutritious? Swapping in turkey instead of pepperoni means fewer calories and less saturated fat. Plus, this combination of delicious ingredients can help you achieve your daily goals of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron.

Greek Style Pizza
Create a pizza that brings out all of the flavors you love in Greek food -- think, a crispy crust topped with spinach, tomatoes, artichokes and classic feta cheese. Substituting standard dough for phyllo crust gives mealtime a Mediterranean flair, and the add-ons make it a great way for your family to eat their daily veggie servings (and be none the wiser!).

Pepperoni Pizza Chili
Whether you’re hunkering down during a cold winter, or just craving some good ol’ comfort food, you likely know how a chili can satisfy your need for a warm, savory dish. Now, just add pizza. Who wouldn’t be comforted by pizza in a bowl? To prepare this pepperoni pizza chili recipe, use pepperoni instead of beef, and the whole family will be asking for seconds. Bonus: Each serving provides a healthy amount of fiber and protein to help keep you and your family feeling full until the next meal!


Ropa Vieja


  • Spray anti-adherente PAM® Original
  • 1-1/2 libras de carne de falda de res, cortada en trozos grandes
  • 1 hoja de laurel
  • 1-1/2 cucharaditas de comino molido
  • 1/2 cucharadita de orégano seco
  • 1/2 cucharadita de sal
  • 1/4 de cucharadita de pimienta negra molida
  • 1 taza de cebolla roja picada
  • 3/4 de taza de pimiento verde picado
  • 3 cucharadas de ajo finamente picado
  • 1 lata (14.5 onzas) de tomates en cubos Hunt's® Diced Tomatoes, escurridos
  • 1 lata (8 onzas) de salsa de tomate Hunt's® Tomato Sauce


  1. Rocíe una olla eléctrica de cocción lenta de 4 cuartos con el spray de cocina. Coloque todos los ingredientes en la olla de cocción lenta. Cúbrala, y cocínelo todo a BAJA temperatura durante 8 horas, a ALTA temperatura durante 4 horas, o hasta que la carne esté tierna.
  2. Retire la hoja de laurel. Saque la carne de la olla de cocción lenta; desmenúcela con la ayuda de 2 tenedores. Vuelva a meter la carne en la olla de cocción lenta; remuévala para que se mezcle bien con la salsa.

Información Nutricional

269 Calorías
13g Grasa total
28g Proteína
Número de porciones: 6 porciones (1 taza cada una)