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Obama Inauguration Luncheon – Official First Meal for the First Family

January 19th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Fish rules! After the pomp and circumstance of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, the new president will end up at the White House for his first official meal as Commander in Chief – the Inaugural Luncheon.

Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington, DC

Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington, DC


Seafood is high on Obama’s list, allegedly (somewhere after pizza — hey, he’s from Chi-town!)  a friendly chili dog and cheese fries – shared with DC’s mayor recently at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and fresh stone fruits — peaches, cherries, etc. 

Chef Shannon Shaffer, of Design Cuisine Catering in Arlington, Va., will oversee the First Meal, and talked to the Guardian, the Brit paper, about making the seafood stew. Go here to watch the video interview.

President Hayes' oyster plate

President Hayes' oyster plate

 Lincoln’s foods

The meal is based on foods popular with Abraham Lincoln. Oysters were widely popular in the mid-1800s. Fancy oyster plates, one of the most hotly collected antique servingwares, were on every hostess’ table of the day. The one pictured at left is from the Rutherford B. Hayes presidential dish collection.

Most meats and poultry served were still game foods in Lincoln’s day, so venison, elk, pheasant, quail, and wild turkey were popular at antebellum banquets and balls.

 To borrow from those menus, but simplify some of the elaborate preparations from Lincoln’s days, chef Shaffer will be preparing a “brace of American birds” as a main course, with roast pheasant, cooked with herbs and stuffed with wild rice, and a roast duck served with a cherry chutney. Whipped sweet potatoes will be served alongside. An apple spice cake will serve as dessert.

All the wines are, of course, Californian. Korbel champagne will be poured to toast the new administration — the vice-president and newly appointed cabinet members also will attend.

The menu in full

  • First Course: Seafood stew

         Wine: Duckhorn Vineyards, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

  • Second Course: A brace of American birds (pheasant and duck), served with sour cherry chutney and molasses; sweet potatoes

           Wine: Goldeneye, 2005 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley

  • Third Course: Apple-cinnamon sponge cake and sweet cream glacé

           Wine: Korbel Natural “Special Inaugural Cuvée,” California sparkling wine

 Dozens of other parties and foods

The inauguration committee approves other foods that will be served at the numerous other “sanctioned” events around town – the many balls and parties. Almost all the foods are American sourced and have a “history” of some sort.

One of those foods is clam chowder — and Legal Sea Foods of Boston, Mass., has been the official “chowda” channeler at inaugural events since Reagan’s do in 1981. In honor of the inauguration, and their 28 years serving administrations, Legal Sea Foods will offer 44-cent bowls of the chowder, full of Cape Cod littleneck clams, with every entree purchased tomorrow.

I’m a huge fan of this chowder, and of Roger Berkowitz, now president of the multi-unit restaurant his dad began years ago. He likes his chowder, too: So how does he eat so much without gaining a ton of weight. “I cheat — if you ask them, they’ll serve you the “light” version made with half cream, and half skim milk. It’s not as rich,” he tells me, “but the flavor is the same.”

The secret is in the salt pork used, as they have for centuries, to make this white-sauce based unctuous concoction.

And because they’re so nice, they’ve shared the recipe. You can find it, along with many others, in their cookbook (recommended!), The New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook
Clam chowder: Legal Sea Foods, Inc. Recipe

 For 8 servings:

  • 4 quarts  littleneck clams
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 oz. salt pork, finely chopped
  • 2 onions (about 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 4 ½ cups clam broth
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cups light cream
  • Oyster crackers (optional)

Place clean clams in a large pot along with garlic and 1 cup water. Steam the clams just until they open, 6-8 minutes, depending on their size. Drain the clams, reserving the broth. Let cool slightly.

Mince the clam flesh and set aside. You should have about 1 2/3 cups chopped clams.

Filter the clam broth through either coffee filters or cheese cloth; set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, slowly render the salt pork. Remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

Slowly cook the onions in the fat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until cooked through but not browned.

Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Add the reserved clam broth and the fish stock, and whisk to remove any flour lumps.

Bring the liquid to a boil, add the potatoes, lower the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the reserved clams, salt pork cracklings, and light cream. Heat the chowder until it is the temperature you prefer.

Serve in large soup bowls with oyster crackers on the side, if desired.

Chef’s Tips:

  • Purchase the best-quality clam broth you can find. It’s the foundation of the finished soup.
  • Make sure the clams you purchase are tightly closed and have no odor.
  • Fully render the bacon fat. That step will really develop the flavor.

Tags: Recipes: What's Cooking! · Today in the World of Food

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ksteinhoff // Jan 19, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    That sounds pretty tasty, but my preference is to see politicians eating crow.

  • 2 Ben // Jan 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    The ‘second course’ sounds terrific… the balance of the sour chutney mixed with molasses appeals to me.

    The Commander’s Palace in New Orleans has a quail recipe involving molasses and bourbon. I love it and have given the recipe to countless folks. However, because the recipe is so long no one has offered to prepare it for me!

  • 3 scottsfla // Jan 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Some of the best duck I’ve ever had was at NOLA in New Orleans. They did half a duck with a bourbon glaze. Delicious. — Scott Simmons

  • 4 Obama Inauguration Luncheon – Official First Meal for the First Family « Obamabidenforchange.com // Jul 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    […] See original here:  Obama Inauguration Luncheon – Official First Meal for the First Family […]

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