Celebrate Frank Sinatra With 6 of His Favorite Foods

This year marks what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday, which is certainly worth celebrating. The singer was one of the most popular and influential musicians of the 20th century, and the man definitely knew how to eat. Apparently, he was quite particular. Many of Sinatra’s favorite meals were consumed at Patsy’s, an Italian-American institution in New York, as well as a number of steakhouses. He may not have done much cooking himself, but if he did, these six recipes would have been among his go-tos.

1. Frank Sinatra’s Barbecued Lamb

Rack of lamb

Source: iStock

If the sight of a long recipe leaves you feeling overwhelmed, this method for Sinatra’s grilled lamb from Dead Celebrity Cookbook, featured on Epicurious, will be a welcome sight. Just mix together a simple oil and vinegar mixture and let the meat marinade overnight. The next day, grill the lamb, let it rest, then dig in. Too cold to grill? Roast the meat in a hot oven and save any juices that accumulate to use as a sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (7-pound) leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup mustard

Directions: Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Place lamb, skin-side up, in a shallow pan and pour marinade over the top. Slather mustard on skin side. Cover and let marinate overnight.

On a preheated grill with the grates 5 inches from the flame, cook lamb for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it reaches your desired doneness, flipping once. Let rest, then thinly slice to serve.

2. Frank’s Fusili With Garlic and Anchovies

fusilli, pasta, basil, tuna

Source: iStock

Don’t feel too sheepish for ordering the same few dishes at your favorite restaurant because Sinatra did the same thing. Most trips to Patsy’s included veal Milanese and a garlicky pasta with plenty of anchovies. While neither recipe is particularly complicated, the latter wins the prize for greatest flavor payoff for the least amount of work. Fortunately, chef Sal Scognamillo shared the recipe with Parade.

Not everyone loves the thought of eating pasta flavored with salty fish, but you’ve probably eaten plenty of anchovy dishes without realizing it. They’re the ingredient that gives Caesar dressing its depth and plenty of chefs use it as a way to give dishes a more savory flavor.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 10 anchovies, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 pound fusilli, cooked al dente
  • 4 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs

Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat and cook until garlic is lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon, then add onions. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until translucent. Add anchovies and 1⅓ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in basil and parsley. Uncover, and simmer 2 minutes longer, then remove from heat.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add breadcrumbs. Toast, tossing, until lightly browned.

Place cooked pasta in a large serving bowl and pour sauce over top. Toss to combine, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and serve.

3. Bourbon, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Burger

cheeseburger with onions

Source: iStock

It’s no secret Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were great pals, and much of that probably had to do with a shared sense of humor. Martin’s no-frills burger recipe is a good indication of the type of guys they were, calling for nothing more than a seared beef patty served with a shot of bourbon. More recently, a supposed response recipe from Sinatra has been floating around the internet that instructs the reader to call Martin and have him cook the meal. It could very easily be a fake, but we sincerely hope it’s authentic.

One thing we know for sure is Sinatra loved a hearty meal and a stiff drink. He may have never eaten these bourbon-spiked burgers from Grumpy’s Honeybunch, but we have a sneaking suspicion he would have approved. With plenty of sweet onions and blue cheese, we can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t.

Ingredients:

Toppings and assembly

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • Sliced tomato
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Hamburger buns

Burgers 

  • 1 pound 80% lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Melt butter in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add brown sugar and bourbon. Cook until thickened, but still a bit saucy. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, mix beef with 2 tablespoons bourbon and the Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper then shape into three even patties. Use your thumb to create a slight indentation in the center of each.

Grill burgers until cooked to your desired doneness, flipping once. When burgers are nearly finished, top each patty with an equal amount of blue cheese. Cook 30 seconds longer, remove from grill, and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Build burgers with onions, patties, lettuce, and tomato. Serve.

4. Baked Eggplant Parmesan

eggplant parmesan

Source: iStock

Sinatra may not have been a big veggie eater, but he made an exception for eggplant parmesan. The Italian-American dish comes in tons of variations ranging from simple to unnecessarily complex. We prefer the easy approach used in this version from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. Everything bakes in the oven, so you don’t have to mess around with any deep frying. If you manage to have leftovers, pile them onto some crusty bread for an excellent sandwich.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into ½-inch rounds
  • 6 cups store-bought chunky tomato sauce or homemade sauce
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush two baking sheets with oil and set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk eggs with 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, ¾ cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Dip eggplant rounds into egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumbs, coating well. Transfer coated eggplant to prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes, flip, and bake until second side browns, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread 2 cups of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, Arrange half of eggplant slices in pan, cover with 2 cups of sauce, then ½ cup mozzarella. Repeat with remaining ingredients and sprinkle last 2 tablespoons Parmesan over the top. Bake until bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.

5. Perfectly Grilled Steak

Steak, grilled

Source: iStock

When it came to dining in Las Vegas, Sinatra was a fan of the Golden Steer steakhouse where his order included a New York strip. The Las Vegas Sun reported the restaurant is hosting a prix-fixe menu as a tribute to the late singer for the entire month of December, but you can honor him from home by making a steak yourself. Try Bobby Flay’s simple, but delicious recipe, featured on Food Network.

When cooking such a bare-bones dish, the quality of the meat really matters. Go for steaks with plenty of marbling; they’ll be the the juiciest and the most flavorful.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (1¼- to 1½-inch-thick, 12-ounce) boneless ribeye or New York strip steaks
  • 2 tablespoons canola or extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: About 20 minutes prior to grilling, remove steaks from the refrigerator. Let sit, covered, at room temperature.

Preheat grill to high. Brush steaks on both sides with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill steaks until slightly charred, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue to grill for 3 to 5 minutes longer for medium rare. An instant-read thermometer will register 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Or cook to your desired level of doneness.

Transfer steaks to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

6. Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake With Strawberry Topping

ricotta cheesecake, red currants

Source: iStock

The inspiration for this last recipe comes, once again, from Patsy’s. Sinatra liked the restaurant’s lemon and ricotta torte, which is little more than some sweetened cheese with eggs and a bit of citrus. This version from MyRecipes.com adds a bit of sour cream for tang and some macerated strawberries to really compliment the lemon flavor. It’s a simple way to update the classic.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
  • 3 (15-ounce) containers whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Strawberry topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle breadcrumbs into a greased 9-inch springform pan. Wrap outside of pan in a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil, pressing up sides of pan. Set in a large roasting pan.

Blend ricotta, sour cream, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping with a rubber spatula as needed. Scrape into a large bowl. Add eggs and next three ingredients to the food processor and pulse until smooth. Pour egg misture into ricotta mixture, and stir to combine. Pour mixutre into prepared baking dish. Set roasting pan in oven and fill roasting pan with ½ inch boiling water, being careful not to splash into the cake. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until cake is set around edges and lightly golden on top. Center will jiggle slightly when you shake the pan.

Remove cake pan from pan and remove foil. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and let chill overnight. Serve with strawberry topping.

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