As President’s Day approaches, here at Plated, we’ve found a new way to celebrate: surveying the purported favorite foods of some past commanders-in-chief. The presidency is a big job, and it definitely requires lots of delicious food (in our opinion). These are the go-to dishes said to be loved by past presidents:
Thomas Jefferson: mac + cheese
According to the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia,Thomas Jefferson, who was by all accounts quite a gourmand, was very interested in macaroni, and the molds used to produce the pasta itself. In fact, he had his own macaroni machine, which was most likely used to prepare the dish that he served to guests at his table. Macaroni and Cheese—a dish which originated in Europe—was definitely not the staple in the U.S. that it is today, so we celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s love of the cheesy dish with one of our favorite Plated versions: Four Cheese Mac and Cheese that combines Cheddar, Fontina, Gruyère and Parmesan. We’re pretty sure the Third President would have been as obsessed with it as we are.
If you’re looking for something even more classic, try this:
1 pound dried short pasta
1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 to 3 cups shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Colby
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
Cook the pasta. Bring about 4 quarts of salted water to a boil over high heat in a large pot. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Warm the milk. Place 1 cup of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and flour in a small bowl and whisk together until there are no lumps. When you just start to see whisps of steam rising from the warming milk, whisk in the milk-and-flour mixture. Continue whisking gently until the milk thickens slightly to the consistency of heavy cream, 3 to 4 minutes.
Make the cheese sauce. Turn the heat to low and begin mixing handfuls of cheese into the milk. Stir in the salt and mustard. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Remove the sauce from the heat.
Combine the pasta and cheese sauce. Place the pasta and 1/2 of the cheese sauce in a large serving bowl. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Add the remaining sauce and any extra add-ins and stir to combine. If you’d like a looser sauce, add up to another 1/4 cup milk if desired. Serve the mac and cheese immediately.
Barack Obama: tortilla chips and guacamole
After a well-documented Twitter clash with the New York Times over their pea guacamole, (his tweet: “respect the NYT but not buying peas in guac. Onions, garlic, hot peppers. classic”), we’re fairly sure President Obama would like our version, with some homemade tortilla chips, to boot!
George W. Bush: cheeseburger pizza
According to the White House Chef at the time, Cristeta Comerford, George Bush particularly loved an interesting food mashup of cheeseburgers and pizza—featuring the popular burger toppings on a margherita pizza. Call us cocky, but we think our Hot Streak pizza with three kinds of meat and a drizzle of hot honey would charm him, too.
Theodore Roosevelt: fried chicken
In his biography of the 26th president, Edmund Morris includes a letter from military aide Archibald Butt, who lauded the fried chicken with white sauce served at the president’s table. According to the International Food and Wine society, he was also very partial to a mint julep, which we’ve got the perfect recipe for.
John F Kennedy: New England fish chowder
According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museums, JFK preferred a simple lunch of a sandwich, soup, and fruit for dessert. One of his particular favorites? New England fish chowder. No surprise, given his Massachusetts roots. He would have almost surely enjoyed our much-loved Plated New England Chowder featuring cod, potato, and a little garlic bread on the side.
Dwight Eisenhower: beef stew
President Eisenhower was said to be so interested in food, that his presidential library even has an archive of his personal cookbook—recipes he particularly enjoyed, typed up by his staff or culled from other places. Amusingly, a recipe for one of his favorite dishes, beef stew, is written to make 60 servings! He loved beef and steak in general, and we don’t doubt he would have been enticed by our version with melted leeks and cheesy potatoes!
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