FROM THE CHAIRMAN’S MOUTH: Sinatra’s Fresh Tomato Sauce — The Mile Square Table
story and photos by Jackie Post
Frank Sinatra was a foodie. His meatball recipe was published in Cook…With the Stars by a Los Angeles radio station in the 50’s. In 1960 he wrote the introduction to The Democrats’ Cookbook: Many Happy Returns or How to Cook a G.O.P Goose. In 1990, he launched a line of pasta sauces and in 1996 there was The Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook.
In between, in 1970, he was on TV preparing “not a marinara sauce, FRESH tomato sauce” on “Dinah’s Place,” Dinah Shore’s daytime talk/variety show. He enters flashing a peace sign wearing an orange cardigan, a red and white apron (that looks like a tablecloth from props) and a Palm Springs tan. “The Chairman” takes control.
Onions have to be cut just so: “longwise, crescent shape…skinny.” At one point he tells Dinah to “hurry up” and insists on a fork instead of a spoon to stir the spaghetti after she placed it in the pasta water. Just as the tomatoes were whirling in the blender too long, (“Whoops, whoop, whoops that’s enough!”), and the onions and garlic were being removed from the oil, the video ends. Boom. Part two opens with Frank and Dinah at the table and his apron is now the tablecloth. The pasta is plated and friendly banter resumes about the importance of salt in pasta water, how Frank prefers grated cheese only with heavier sauces, and how Eddie Cantor “had a heck of a band.”
- In a pre-heated sauté pan, add 2 generous tablespoons of olive oil.
- After the oil heats, add 4 garlic cloves, and a ¼ onion, sliced thin.
- While these are heating, put a can of Italian whole tomatoes with the liquid in a blender and whirl on high for “a few seconds.”
- Remove the garlic and onion from the skillet and add the sauce to the flavored oil, adding salt, black pepper, dried basil and oregano.
- Simmer the sauce for as long as it takes to prepare the pasta.
- Check for doneness one minute ahead of the suggested cooking time.
- Drain, toss with butter before tossing in the sauce.
- Have red pepper flakes, grated cheese, extra olive oil and wine at the table.
Done and Yum!
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