Okay, so word on the street is that Barack Obama’s favorite foods include pizza, chili, and pumpkin pie – further proof that he is, after all, “a man of the people.” On the healthy side, he’s into trail mix, spinach, and broccoli, which may in part explain the fit physique of the next Commander-in-Chief. So, as a cook and as a person with a thing for dinner parties, I have to ask: what do you serve one of the most eagerly anticipated Presidents-elect on his big day? Wouldn’t you know – the Inaugural Luncheon includes nothing other than seafood stew. Feel like cooking along? We’ve got the recipe, so you can celebrate January 20th in truly Presidential style. Note – this serves 10, so invite your cabinet.
Obama‘s Seafood Stew
You will need:
- 6 Maine lobsters (1 lb.)
- 20 medium sea scallops
- 36 large shrimp (2 lbs.), peeled, cleaned, and tail removed
- 10 1-oz. pieces of black cod
- 1/2 cup peeled, diced carrots
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks
- 1/2 cup cubed russet potato
- kosher salt
- white pepper
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1 cup dry vermouth
- 10 5-inch puff pastry rounds (available in most freezer sections)
- 2-3 egg whites, beaten lightly with a splash of water
- 10 soup ramekins
1. In a large soup pot, boil one gallon of water. Poach the lobsters, then remove them from the water with tongs. Set aside. Poach the shrimp, and remove. Next, add the cod to the water – do this carefully, to keep it from flaking apart. Finally, remove the cod and poach the scallops.
2. Keep the water boiling, and add the vegetables, cooking them until they are tender but not mushy. The potatoes will be the best judge of doneness; do not overcook. Remove the vegetables, allowing the water to continue to boil until most of it has cooked off, creating a light stock.
3. When only a quart of liquid remains, add the vermouth and heavy cream, and allow the entire broth to reduce by half. Season it with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. When the sauce will cover the back of a wooden spoon and not drain off completely, the desired thickness has been reached. Set the sauce aside to cool.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the seafood into bite-sized pieces, and gently fold them into the cooled sauce. Scoop this resulting mixture into the ramekins, taking care to distribute the seafood evenly and not to allow the pieces to break apart.
5. Cover each ramekin with a piece of puff pastry cut to size. Brush the tops with egg wash, and then set the dishes in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Barack Obama’s inaugural menu also includes: molasses whipped sweet potatoes, winter vegetables (including asparagus – a veggie Obama claims not to be crazy about), and a cinnamon apple sponge cake (even though his children say he doesn’t enjoy sweets other than pumpkin pie). The menu was designed, after all, not according to Obama’s tastes, but to those of one of his role models: President Abraham Lincoln, who was fond of seafood, among other things. As reported in the New York Post, “It’s always good to model yourself after a great president,” said Eric Foner, a professor of American history at Columbia University. “The proof will be in the pudding.”
For those of you who are cooking at home and don’t happen to have the “brace of American birds” on hand to roast with sour-cherry chutney – the Presidential main dish, following the seafood – try something lighter. Steam some broccoli and serve it chilled with lemon juice, a splash of nutty olive oil, and a pinch of salt as a lighter side to your stew.