President 42: William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
We have finally reached the President with the most insatiable junk food appetite ever to grace Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1992, Hillary told reporters that “the good news is, my husband loves to eat and enjoys it. The bad news is, he loves to eat, even when things are not always right for him." I can relate, Mr. President. When they moved in to the White House, Hillary was determined to make some changes to the standard Presidential menus. White House Chef, Walter Scheib, wrote that her biggest priority was to “showcase American regional cuisine and products”. The First Lady also requested red meat be served sparingly (though lamb was reportedly her favorite), with more nutritional and low-fat dishes taking center stage. All private meals enjoyed by the family were informal. Bill’s favorite indulgence when Hillary was away was a 24-ounce porterhouse with béarnaise sauce and onion rings. This comes as no surprise as he had an equal love for ribs, barbeque, fried chicken, enchiladas, and burgers. Upon meeting the kitchen staff, he said with a mischievous giggle, “I don’t really eat much of that stuff. That’s just the press.”
Surely there was something that Bill didn’t eat while in office? Chocolate. He is lactose intolerant and doesn’t go near the stuff. “Talk about keeping the marriage together," Hillary told reporters. "One of the serious issues of our marriage is that Bill Clinton does not eat chocolate." No comment. She and Chelsea both love it. It is rather ironic that this year Bill submitted the Clinton chocolate chip cookie recipe to the Family Circle Presidential cookie recipe challenge. Melania Trump submitted a basic star-shaped sugar cookie. Neither recipe was remotely earthshattering. The cookie challenge began as a PR response to Hillary’s famous 1992 campaign comment that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what [she] decided to do was to fulfill [her] profession, which [she] entered before [her] husband was in public life. If you can’t beat em’, join em’, and now its Bill’s turn to mix the batter.
For Bill, the junk food glory days have to come to an end. Clinton gave up his greasy palate and became a vegan in 2011 after dealing with ongoing heart problems. He has become the ultimate geriatric hipster and actively touts the lifestyle. "I've stopped eating meat, cheese, milk, even fish. No dairy at all. [My doctor] asked me to eat organic salmon once a week. I do, but I’d just as soon be without it, “he said. Now he snacks on veggie burgers, hummus with crudité, and nachos topped with cashew cheese. In homage to our Presidential renaissance man, we have made the Clinton family enchilada recipe and our “enchil-nada” vegan version for those who have made the brave journey over.
If you are in DC October 29th: Please join “Soulfood Scholar” Adrian Miller and I on the morning of October 29th as we share recipes and explore the legacy of African American White House chefs at the Smithsonian Food History Weekend. A complete guide to the presentations and events can be found here.
Bill Clinton's Favorite Chicken Enchiladas (“Enchil-nadas in bold italics”)
Adapted from The Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook
2 (4oz) cans chopped green chilies, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (28oz) can tomatoes
2 cups chopped onion
2 tsps. salt, divided
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (or vegan chicken cutlets, diced)
1 cup sour cream (omit if vegan)
1 cup cream cheese (2 cups vegan cream cheese)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (1 cup Mexican Vegan shredded cheese, 1 cup cashew cheese- recipe below)
cup cooking oil
15 corn or flour tortillas
In a large skillet over a medium-high heat, sauté the chillies and garlic in a small amount of oil. Drain the tomatoes, reserving cup of liquid. Break up tomatoes and add to skillet. Add the onion, 1 tsp salt, oregano, and reserved liquid. Simmer, uncovered, until thickened (about 30 minutes). Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, sour cream, cheese, and remaining 1 tsp salt. If you are making the vegan version, combine vegan chicken, cashew cheese and vegan cream cheese in bowl. In the same skillet over a medium-high heat, heat cup oil. Dip the tortillas in the oil until they become limp and drain well on paper towels. Fill the tortillas with the chicken mixture; roll up and arrange side by side, seam side down, in a 9x13x2-inch baking dish. Pour the tomato mixture over the enchiladas. Top with shredded cheese (vegan or cheddar) before baking. Bake at 350°F/170-180°C for 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly.
Mexican Cashew Cheese
2 cups raw cashews
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt and a pinch of pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp hot water
Put all ingredients in the food processor, except the water. Add 1 Tbsp hot water to mixture to loosen up.