Whether it’s been an isolated President and First Lady at Camp David, their First Family and First Friends in the White House private quarters or a large rollicking crowd with conflicting team loyalties, White House Super Bowl parties are a relatively new tradition. The first gathering to watch the game that can technically be called a “party,” was organized by the enthusiastic daughter of President Reagan, Maureen Reagan, in 1987.
The year 2011 marked the largest Super Bowl Party ever hosted in the White House, the President and Mrs. Obama inviting some 150 guests including national, state and local officials, Cabinet members – even Jennifer Lopez and her then-husband musician Marc Anthony to eat it up and cheer. Guests watched from the State Dining Room, East Room or the ground-floor Theater.
Along with the traditional Super Bowl menu of hot buffalo wings and blue cheese dressing and guacamole and other dips, the Obama offerings including some which reflected the taste of their hometown Chicago and the Polish-American and German-American favorites of their Midwestern region, including Bratwurst, Kielbasa, Deep Dish Pizza, German Potato Salad and potato chips and pretzels made in Pennsylvania.
While the President broke precedent by letting it be known he was favoring the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Green Bay Packers, he made sure there was an equal choice of home brews, be it Yuengling Lager and Light, from Pennsylvania, or Hinterland Pale Ale and Amber Ale, from Wisconsin.
As is inevitable with anything related to the White House, even food, there were critics who claimed that serving higher-fat foods went against the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to fight obesity. No – she retorted, she always emphasized that eating what people want to eat, regardless of calories, is realistic and wise on special occasions. In the especially busy re-election campaign year of 2012, however, the Obamas are figuring on a quieter Super Bowl party. Michelle Obama recently said she planned to indulge on her own favorite to munch on during the game: “Nachos are always good, [if] it’s fresh tomato sauce and you get it on sort of a good quality tortilla.” For the President she said, his choice was “a chip dipped in some guac.”
“Football Politics: Presidents & The Super Bowl,” an earlier story on this magazine website chronicles how the Super Bowl, specifically, and football, in general, have become useful tools for Presidents with a political agenda.
The menu here, drawn from authentic White House recipes of First Family favorites, keeps true to the traditional Super Bowl Party taste for chili, pepper, corn, cheese and onion. Although there is one food item representing each of the ten Presidential Administrations since the first Super Bowl in 1967, they are arranged by appetizer, vegetable, entrée and dessert – and there are four entrée offerings: two chicken (Nixon and Clinton), one tuna (W. Bush), one beef (LBJ).
Alas, since there was neither a Super Bowl nor hot Buffalo wings during either of the two famously non-consecutive Administrations (1885-1889; 1893-1897) of former Buffalo mayor and President Grover Cleveland, there’s no White House wings recipe here.
One final food footnote: Although it was only ten years ago, the most peculiar threat to a President’s safety is already incorrectly reported as having occurred while George W. Bush was watching Super Bowl XXVI. It is true that he rose to cheer, lost blood pressure, choked on a pretzel which hit a nerve and made him pass on and hit his face on the floor – but it was while he was alone watching a Dolphin-Ravens playoff game, weeks earlier.
Still, in precautionary deference to that 2002 presidential moment, W’s Tex-Mex-Mix snack did not make this list.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s “Plains Special” Cheese Ring
1 pound of grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 small grated onion
Black pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne
Mix everything except jam and pour into a non-stick ring mold. Refrigerate until chilled firm. Unmold on plate and fill center with jam. Serve with crackers.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s Guacamole
Meat of 6 ripe California avocados
2 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro
1 cup of finely chopped white onion
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
2 peeled and diced ripe tomatoes
1 bunch of finely chopped scallion, white portions
Mash and whip smooth the avocado meat. Add onions, 1 tablespoon of cilantro, lime and lemon juice, and olive oil to avocados, mixing thoroughly until uniformly blended. Add degree of Tabasco sauce for preferred hot-taste. Refrigerate thoroughly. Just before serving, sprinkle tomatoes, scallions and remaining tablespoon of cilantro on top. Serve with warm tortilla chips.
Gerald and Betty Ford’s Braised Red Cabbage
8 thin-sliced bacon strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 finely sliced onions
2 shredded small heads of red cabbage
2 peeled and sliced apples
1 tablespoon of salt
Pinch of white pepper
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups dry red wine
In a covered pot, simmer on medium heat the bacon and onions in the oil, but don’t brown onions. Add half the cabbage, then the layer of apples, then the remaining cabbage, then the spices and seasoning and pour the wine all over it. Place a heat-proof plate atop this, and cover the pot, simmering for 15 minutes. Remove the pot cover and the plate, stir the entire mixture with a long fork until well-blended. Return the plate and pot cover – simmer for another 15 minutes. Again, remove the coverings and stir. For a third time, return the coverings in place and simmer again for a final 15 minutes, until the juice is completely reduced. Serve hot.
George and Barbara Bush’s Corn Pudding
4 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
¾ cups chopped onions
1 diced sweet bell pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
3 beaten eggs
1 cup white corn kernels
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons flour
½ teaspoon thyme
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and white pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs. Fry bacon until crisp, remove from pan and sauté onions in it, add peppers. Heat milk and cream, add butter until melted. Blend dairy mix with eggs, then blend flour in well to be sure of no lumps. Then mix in bacon, onions, peppers and herbs. Pour into ungreased baking dish and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes until golden brown.
George W. and Laura Bush’s Tuna and Olive Salad
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced yellow onion
¼ cup diced carrot
½ bay leaf
½ cup dry white wine
2 lemon wedges
1 sprig fresh marjoram
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 pound skinless and trimmed fresh tuna
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup sliced pitted dry-cured black olives
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In saucepan, combine half of the celery, half of the onion, the carrots, bay leaf, white wine, lemon wedges, marjoram, thyme, and 1 ½ cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so liquid simmers for five minutes. Carefully lower tuna into this and poach until just done, about 15 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and put aside until cool, then flake into chunks. Remove the solids from the poaching liquid, then boil it at a high temperature until it is reduced to about a ½ cup and takes on a thick consistency, for about 15 minutes and set aside. In another bowl, combine the tuna, red peppers, olives, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, hot sauce, remaining celery and onion and about 2 tablespoons of the reduction liquid. Mix gently but thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
Dick and Pat Nixon Hot Potato Chip Chicken Salad
4 cups pre-cooked chicken breast chunks
2 cups diced celery
3 sliced hard-boiled eggs
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
2 finely-cut pimentos
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of grated onion
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups of crushed potato chips
2/3 cup toasted almonds
Pre-heat oven to 400. Except for the potato chips, cheddar cheese and almonds, mix all the other ingredients well and pour into a large non-stick rectangular baking dish. Then top it with the chips, cheese and nuts. Bake for 25 minutes, taking it out hot and bubbling.
Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales River Chili
4 pounds coarsely ground beef (chili-grind)
1 large chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 teaspoons chili powder
2 (16-ounce) cans tomatoes
Salt to taste
2 cups hot water
In a large frying pan, brown meat with onion and garlic until meat is lightly browned; transfer ingredients to a large kettle. Add oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, salt, and hot water. Bring just to a boil; lower heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 1 hour. Remove from heat. Skim off grease and serve. Serves 12.
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Chicken Enchilada
2 tablespoons cooking oil; and ¼ cup cooking oil to cook tortillas
½ teaspoon oregano
2 cans green chilies
3 cups chicken, shredded, cooked
1 can (28 ounce size) tomatoes
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped onions
2 teaspoons salt
15 corn tortillas
1 minced clove of garlic
2 cups sour cream
Prehear oven to 250. Remove seeds and chop chilies, then saute them with garlic in oil. Simmer low until thickened a reserved ½ cup of tomato liquid from can, roughly cut-up canned tomatoes and oregano. Set aside. Combine chicken, sour cream, cheddar cheese and salt. Heat oil for tortillas and saute until they’re limp, draining well on paper towels, then fill with mix, and roll up. In a long baking dish, arrange the enchiladas in a row, pour chili-garlic sauce atop them and bake for about 20 minutes until thoroughly heated.
Barack and Michelle Obama Apple Cobbler
3 pie crusts
8 peeled and sliced green apples
2 cups of brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour
1 stick butter
Mix apples, spices, flour and salt and set aside these ingredients together in a bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight so the spice goes all the way through the apples. Roll out 1 ½ of the three pie crusts as thinly as possible and line the bottom of a long baking dish. Pour fruit mix into it, then dot it with ½ of the butter stick. Again roll the remaining 1 ½ crusts as thinly as possible and place on top. Brush the top crust with the remaining ½ stick of butter, melted. Bake for 2 ½ hours until crust is flaky – but check to be certain it doesn’t burn.
Categories: Barack Obama, Barbara Bush, Betty Ford, Bill Clinton, First Ladies, Food, George W. Bush, Individual Presidents, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Pop Culture, Presidential Foods, Presidential Holidays, Presidents, Ronald Reagan, The LBJs