For a while I've been thinking the worlds needs a Sonny Bono cookbook. Recently I was even bemoaning the fact that we never got a Sonny Bono Cooking Channel show. This is because Cher scholar Jay sent me an episode of Sonny cooking from the October 13, 1969 Mike Douglas Show where we can see Sonny (and Cher) cooking together while Mike Douglas goofs off.
Inspired by this episode and my conversations with Jay, I went online to gather all of the Internets' find-able Sonny Bono recipes. I've compiled all I could find here. I'll try to make these dishes in both meat and vegetarian varieties (so I can eat some of it) and contribute notes and pictures to the page. If you decide to make any of these recipes and have stories or pictures to share or if you have other confirmed Sonny recipes, email me.
Hopefully this list of recipes will grow over time as well, or maybe someone in "the family" will create a cookbook tribute to Sonny. Or maybe his Chef-daughter Christy will someday want a cookbook of her own that will include her father's recipes.
Sonny Bono's Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce
From The Dead Celebrity Cookbook by Frank DeCarlo
1 pound spaghetti
5 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. While cooking, prepare sauce. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, then peel and dice. Sauté garlic in oil over medium heat until tender. Add tomatoes and sauté one minute. Add basil, stir, and remove from heat. Toss pasta with tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper to taste and Parmesan cheese to taste.
I made this recipe on July 24, 2021. See pics.
From the Baltimore Sun...
"Selma Kopelman of Brookline, Mass., sought help in finding Sonny Bono's pollo chicken recipe. She lost a recipe her daughter-in-law had given her. Helena Blum of Baltimore came to the rescue. She said she had a recipe from the Feb. 6, 1990, issue of Woman's Day magazine. "I never tried it. Now I will," she wrote. The dish features breaded chicken breasts, which are topped with fresh tomatoes and onions, and then baked. Blum also included other information about Bono from the article. "Sonny Bono's parents worked when he was a kid, his father in a factory and his mom in a local beauty shop. The first one home made the meals, chosen from an array of old Bono family recipes. On Sundays, they cooked very special dinners together, and when Sonny and his older sister were old enough, they cooked too."
Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "This dish is very low in fat and cholesterol. There is not a huge amount of tomato sauce, although the tomato slices release their juices during the broiling process. I would suggest Maui or other sweet onion for their sweet flavor and greater juiciness."
Mr. Cher Scholar made this recipe on July 24, 2021. See pics.
1 cup tomato juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup packaged seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 medium tomatoes, each sliced in 6 rounds
1 medium onion, sliced in 12 thin rounds
Mix tomato-sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5-7 minutes until sauce thickens. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put chicken breasts in a plastic food storage bag. Pour in 1 tablespoon oil. Close bag and press to coat chicken with oil. Mix bread crumbs and cheese on waxed paper. Coat chicken with crumb mixture. Place side by side in 13-inch-by-9-inch broiler-proof baking dish. Top each breast half with 2 slices tomato and onion. Pour tomato sauce over chicken. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until chicken is opaque in center. Turn oven selector to broil. Broil chicken 4 to 5 inches from heat source for 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
Sonny Bono's Chicken Tonight
I found this one on facebook by Steve Martine Cooks. He says,
Sonny was on Merv Griffin many years ago and he prepared this dish. Turns out to be a favorite of mine.
Chicken breast on the bone or bones (whichever you prefer)
Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 bell pepper
Favorite tomato sauce (see Pollo Bono above)
Pasta of choice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dip chicken in olive oil and then then bread with Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Place breaded breasts in a glass baking pan. Cut a bell pepper and an onion in long, thin strips and place over the chicken breasts. Top with your favorite red sauce (Cooks used Ragu for this dish). Use only enough sauce to cover. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and add mozzarella cheese and bake for 15 minutes more uncovered. Serve over pasta (Cooks uses angelhair pasta). Cooks says, "use a spatula to serve the chicken but grab a spoon to get all the goodies in the pan! Great flavors there. Grate some cheese on top and enjoy!!"
Sonny Bono's Rigatoni with Sausage and Short Ribs Sugo Di Spuntature Recipe
I found this recipe on a site called Group Recipes. It's from crabhappychick 12 years ago, who says,
Talk about a hearty meal! Save this for the first cool fall day to warm you up from the inside out. Used to be served at Sonny's restaurant in Palm Beach - don't know if its still there or not. Fantastic!!!! Bon Appetit 1988.
Does this mean the recipe was also in Bon Appetit Magazine in 1988?
260 minutes to make
1/4 c. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes, patted dry
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, halved crosswise
6 beef short ribs
3 15-oz. cans tomato sauce
3 c. water
2 c. dry red wine
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried basil, crumbled
1 T. dried oregano, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
3 T. chopped fresh basil
freshly cooked rigatoni pasta
freshly grated parmesan cheese
Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan using slotted spoon. Increase heat to high. Add chuck and brown well on all sides. Remove using slotted spoon. Add sausage and brown well on all sides. Return onion, garlic and chuck to pan. Add short ribs, tomato sauce, water, wine, tomato paste, dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until chuck is very tender, about 3 hours, de-greasing occasionally. Just before serving, stir in fresh basil. Divide rigatoni among bowls. Top with short ribs and meat mixture. Serve, passing Parmesan separately.
Sonny Bono's Frutta Di Mare a la Palm Springs
In English this recipe is called "Fruit of the Sea" which is served at Sonny Bono's restaurant in Palm Springs, CA.
1/2 pound swordfish, cubed
1/2 pound red snapper, cubed
4 jumbo shrimp, peeled, de-veined
6 green New Zealand mussels in shell
6 clams in the shell
4 crayfish, opt
1 carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small can anchovies in oil, chopped
2 cans (6.5 ounce size) clams with juice, chopped
2 cans imported Italian whole tomatoes with basil
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
10 fennel seeds
crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
Steam clams and mussels over water with half the garlic, wine and lemon juice for 9 to 10 minutes until they open. Discard liquid.
Boil crayfish in enough water to cover, with half the onion, the carrots, a celery stalk, crushed chilies, salt and pepper for 15 minutes. Leave shells intact, discard liquid.
To prepare broth, cook the rest of the celery, onion, anchovies with oil, half of the olive oil and bay leaves in a large covered saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the celery feels fork tender.
Add clams with juice and half the wine and cook for 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, fennel seeds, chilies, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
To prepare fish, heat rest of olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add swordfish, snapper, salmon, scallops, shrimp, salt and pepper. Saute until cooked on all sides.
Add rest of wine and lemon juice, cook for 3 minutes. Add to broth, then add the steamed mussels, clams and crayfish.
Serve in a deep dish with linguine, a salad of fresh greens, crisp Italian bread and your favorite white wine.
“A Veal Dish” aka Veal Bono aka Sonny’s Baked Veal
Cher: He doesn’t name them. He just puts Bono at the end of it.
From The Mike Douglas Show, October 13, 1969. This was part of an alleged 3-course meal presented on the show that week. These measurements are my own estimates from watching Sonny on the show.
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 pieces of veal
2 28 oz. cans of Whole Tomatoes
1 White Onion
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Put some olive oil in a bowl or pan. Add breadcrumbs into a bowl or pan. Add to the breadcrumbs the parsley, parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Stir. Add salt and pepper (Sonny: “lots of it”). Coat the veal in the olive oil and then the breadcrumbs. Lay them into a 9X13 pan. Slice the tomatoes on top of the veal. Add the rings of sliced onion on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle oregano on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.
Sonny Bono's Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies
I found reference to this on the Flikr page of Studio Z-7 Archives. It's not a recipe, just a reference to the existence of a special cookie recipe in existence somewhere in the universe. Apparently you could buy these! Studio Z-7 Archives quotes Sonny's message on the the box:
"Thanks for trying my Gourmet Cookies. I really think you're going to enjoy them! As a matter of fact, they're the same cookies I baked for rehearsals. Everybody loved them. I'm still using my favorite recipe and insist on the best ingredients like pure chocolate chunks and table grade butter. Then I seal them in this SPECIAL "Cookie Jar" so you'll enjoy them fresh and crisp! All My Best, Sonny Bono"
Studio Z-7 Archives then says,
If Paul Newman could have his own line of gourmet products, so could Sonny Bono. Cool to think he made homemade cookies for the crew when they were doing rehearsals...cookies were baked by Silver Lake Cookie Company of Islip, NY. Don't know when this was made but the package design looks like mid-late 1980s.
Other Family Food Links
News about Sonny's restaurant:
Links about Christy Bono's ventures:
You can also explore Cher's recipes in her books Forever Fit with Robert Haas and Cooking for Cher with her chef Andrew Ennis.
Cher's Perfect Pork Chops
From both Singers & Swingers in the Kitchen, The Scene-Makers Cook Book by Roberta Ashley (1967) “Recipes to get Hung-Up On” and Celebrity Recipes by Janice Tomano (circa 1980s).
2 pork chops, double-thick (the butcher will cut these on request)
1 ½ cups olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped onions
1 can whole stewed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon basil
Put the olive oil into a bowl; crush the garlic into the olive oil. Marinate the double chops in the mixture for 2 hours or more. Then put the marinade into a saucepan. Add the chopped onions and heat until the onions are soft. Add the oregano and basil and stir; then all the pork chops. Simmer the entire mixture for about 10 minutes. Finally, add the whole tomatoes and let the dish cook over low-medium heat for another 20 minutes. Serve piping hot with spaghetti or Italian bread.