Sammy Davis Jr.’s Favorite Comfort Food is one we can all relate to

By | April 14, 2024

It was regularly at his house, and we have the recipe!

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Today, Beyonce and Taylor Swift share and dominate the spotlight of the music world. But in the 1950s and 1960s, it didn’t become more iconic than the Rat Pack.

The crooners, collectively known as the “Rat Pack” (Frank Sinatra, Dan Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford) were the epitome of old Hollywood charm. Although they had a reputation as red carpet stars and big partygoers, we learn that several members had quite down-to-earth tastes.

Take Frank Sinatra for example. He loved Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake (yes, the same one you can still get at your local grocery store today) so much that he had a regular weekly delivery. Sinatra was also sweet with a very humble candy: Tootsie Rolls.

One of his packmates also had a preference for a cozy dish that regularly appears on many American tables.

Sammy Davis Jr.’s Favorite Food

While nothing feels quite as at home as his grandmother Rosa B. Davis’ ham and veggies, Davis Jr. stated, “I love spaghetti and meatballs. I swear it has nothing to do with Frank Sinatra,” the crooner told the author of the book. Celebrity Cookbook section of the St. Petersberg, Florida newspaper “Evening Independent” for a column that appeared in January 1966. “It dates back to when I was a child.”

Davis Jr. was born in Harlem and admitted to the newspaper that he usually preferred Southern cuisine (preferably dishes that reminded him of his grandmother’s cooking) over New York City staples.

“We still like fried chicken and black-eyed peas on Sundays. We ate them on New Year’s Eve because it’s said to bring you good luck.”

But there’s something about a comforting plate full of spaghetti, tomato sauce and meatballs that draws the “I’ve Gotta Be Me” singer (and his family) in.

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Davis Jr. explained that he and his then-wife, May Britt, often shared this cozy dish with their three children. It was one of about a dozen dinners that change regularly, he added: “Our menus at home are simple. We have about 12 to 15 dishes that intrigue us, such as roast beef, lamb or a good stew.”

One of those dishes was his favorite spaghetti sauce, which is deliberately thick, per Davis Jr.’s preference. However, he admitted that he could not take credit for the recipe he shared with the newspaper.

“When people ask me what I can’t do, I tell them I can’t cook or swim! I can’t even boil water,” Davis Jr. admitted.

What about his plus one, Britt? “She’s a great ‘warmer-up.’ Those are her words, not mine.”

This recipe, where Davis Jr. that reminds him of his childhood comes from his chef, Bessie Evans. She prepared it ahead of time and kept it in the refrigerator so Davis Jr. and Britt were able to use their best warm-up skills.

How to Make Sammy Davis Jr.’s Favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs

We have slightly modified the recipe that appeared in the print version to use ingredients in portion sizes that are readily available today, and to make it easier to follow at home. Before you roll up your sleeves and preheat your pans, don’t miss our guide to making the best meatballs (including our top five tips to ensure your meatballs are tender, flavorful, and worthy of the celebrity we know you are. who you are).

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Servings: 8

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour



  • 3 large yellow onions, coarsely grated

  • 1 large green pepper, coarsely grated

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 1 whole clove of garlic, peeled

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground


  • 1 large onion, yellow, coarsely grated

  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) lean ground beef

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

  • Olive oil



Make the sauce:

  1. Using a clean tea towel or sturdy paper towel, squeeze the juice from the 3 grated onions. Discard the juice and keep the pulp.

  2. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Fry the sieved grated onion and green pepper for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

  3. Add tomato sauce, tomato puree, water, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

  4. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.

  5. Just before serving, remove the garlic clove and bay leaf.

Make the meatballs:

  1. While the sauce is simmering, in a large bowl combine the other grated onion, ground beef, eggs, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

  2. Form into 1 to 2 inch balls. (At Allrecipes we like to use a small scoop for this.)

  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil.

  4. Add the meatballs, turn them with tongs and fry until brown on all sides.

  5. Once the meatballs are brown on the outside and no longer pink in the center, about 3 to 5 minutes, transfer to paper towels to drain.

  6. Use the tongs to nestle the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Stir to coat each meatball evenly with sauce.

To serve:

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.

  2. Spoon the sauce and meatballs over the pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from the ‘Evening Independent’.

Read the original article on All Recipes.

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