President’s Day


I thought it would be fun to make a presidents day dinner featuring recent presidents favorite foods.   And of course, to “honor” the incoming president, I planned to make a “Trump Taco Bowl.”

Doing a little “research” (google) it turns out that Obama, both Bushes, and Bill all loved some form of tex-mex.   Hmmm…kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Without further ado, here is the menu for our President’s day tribute to our Mexican overlords!

Menu for Feb 20, 2017

George the First’s “Operation Desert Snacks”

  • Pork Rinds with Tabasco
  • Cheese Straws
  • Ritz crackers and Pimento cheese

Ron and Nancy warn: “This is your brain on salad”

Jimmy builds a house of Shrimp and Cheese Grits

 Billy’s Whole Enchilada with Dirty Rice

Bam Bam’s Chitown Turkey Chili with Abe’s Illinois Cornbread”

Real news headline: “That’s not a Taco Bowl, Trump says of Taco Bowl”

W’s “Heckuva Brownie, Brownie”


This is dinner for eight at seven pm on a Sunday (you can recover on the actual presidents day.)   I assume you have all day on D-1 (dinner minus one day), and not to much time on D-2.  We’ll try to do as little ala minute as possible, but a certain amount of kitchen chaos is unavoidable.

It’s a bad idea to try and cook a bunch of things ala minute at one of these kind of dinners.   For this one, the only thing we will need to do at runtime is the shrimp for the grits and to warm and assemble the sopes.

Everything else can (and should be made ahead of time.)

Plan on serving a dish every 20 minutes, the opening snacks should be out when your guests arrive.  This means dinner will take ~2.5 hours give or take.  The timing below will be based on that.


  1. Order yourself some grits and cornmeal from Anson Mills.


  1. Print out all the recipes.
    1. Cheese Straws   (Operation Desert Snacks)
    2. Pimento Cheese  (Operation Desert Snacks)
    3. Salad Southwest  (Ron and Nancy: this is your brain on salad)
    4. Shrimp and Grits  (Jimmy’s house of shrimp and grits)
    5. Chicken Enchiladas  (Billy’s whole enchilada)
    6. Not so dirty, Dirty Rice  (Billy’s whole enchilada)
    7. Turkey Chili  (Bam Bam’s)
    8. Cornbread  (Bam Bam’s)  (NYT cooking recipe)
    9. “Taco Bowl”:
      1. Sopes, Carnitas, plus tomatilla salsa, cilantro leaves, and cojita.
      2. Assemble, put carnitas in sopes, spoon on a tiny bit of salsa, sprinkle with cojita, garnish with cilantro.
    10. Brownies  (NY Times Cooking Recipe)
  2. Read them.
  3. Make some notes.
  4. Read them again.


If you are done with grocery shopping and starting step 2 by 7pm you’ll be fine.  You can do most of this while the chiles are cooking down.

  1. [2 hours]  Grocery Shopping
  2. [15 mins] Get the sous vide going for carnitas – this will be done 24 hours later, and need 30 minutes after that too cool, so plan this out.  I’d try to time this so its done on D-1 just before or just after dinner.  You could do this on D-1 too and time it for the right point at D, but getting it out of the way is nice too.
  3. [30-60 mins] Toast chiles and make chili paste for chili and sauce for enchiladas.  The recipes call for different mixtures, you can use the same mix  of chiles for this dinner, it’s ok and way less of a pain.
  4. [30 mins] Make Pimento Cheese
  5. [15 mins] Prep onions and jalapeños for chili
  6. [5 mins] Soak beans overnight for Turkey Chili in salted water (1tbs per qt)



  1. Make the chili
  2. Make cheese straws


  1. Soak grits  overnight (1 cup in 2 1/2 cups water)
  2. Evac the pork from the sous vide and pull on a sheet pan.  Once pulled, refrigerate along with juices that accumulated in the sheet pan
  3. Make chicken for chicken enchiladas, shred cheeses
  4. Cut bacon into lardons and cook
  5. Sous vide eggs and poach (directions) (one egg per guest)

D(inner) Day


  1. Make avocado dressing
  2. Make sopes
  3. Make dessert, keep in freezer

Dinner minus three hours

  1. Set table, pick up around house

Dinner minus two and a half hours

  1. Make and bake cornbread
  2. Slice some scallions for the chili.
  3. Assemble the chicken enchiladas but don’t bake, stash them in the fridge

Dinner minus 90 minutes

  1. Start cooking grits.
  2. Prep salad – everything but the egg.  Put it in the fridge

Dinner minus one hour

  1. Warm up chili
  2. Cook sausage and veggies for dirty rice.  Set aside covered on stove top
  3. Get sous vide going to 135 to warm up eggs

Dinner minus 30 minutes

  1. Preheat small oven to 200, large oven to 350
  2. Put out the snacks along with whatever drinks you will serve when your guests arrive
  3. Grits should finish around now.  Mix in cheese in cooking vessel.  Turn off heat and cover.
  4. Broil carnitas for sopes, evac and leave covered in foil
  5. Put sopes on a sheet pan, loosely cover with foil
  6. Start rice in rice maker
  7. Take bacon lardons out of fridge, wrap in foil


  1. Snack, socialize for a 15 minutes.
  2. Pop eggs into sous vide, and bacon (wrapped in foil) into oven to reheat
  3. Talk for 10 minutes more while eggs and bacon warm up.
  4. Evac bacon from oven and salad from frigde.
  5. Plate salads, top with egg centered on top and a twist of pepper.  Make the salads small so that they are mostly egg.
  6. Cover enchiladas with foil – pop in oven to bake for 20 minutes (they are cold, they will take longer at this point)
  7. Serve salad and eat.
  8. Take away plates, ask someone to help clean them (you will probably need to reuse them), ask someone else to help with grits
  9. Sear off shrimp
  10. Take out enchiladas, remove foil, put back in for 15 minutes with a timer on (this is to brown cheese basically)
  11. Reheat sausage and veggies on low for dirty rice.
  12. Put grits into a big bowl, top with shrimp and bacon
  13. Serve grits family style, eat
  14. Remove enchiladas from oven.
  15. Make dirty rice (rice should still be hot in rice maker – put into serving dish, then fold in sausage mix and parsley)
  16. Turn off oven, stick carnitas in oven to warm.  Remove foil from sopes, put them in oven too.  Put the cornbread in the oven three.
  17. Serve enchiladas and dirty rice family style
  18. Eat
  19. Remove plates, bring out bowls and side plates. Serve chili + cornbread, along with some honey, butter, sour cream, shredded cheddar, and scallions.
  20. Eat
  21. Evac the carnitas and sopes.  Have the least drunk person at the table help you assemble the ‘taco bowls’
  22. Serve on a big platter and eat from side plates
  23. Clean up
  24. Dessert
  25. Coffee
  26. Tell your guest to clean your really dirty kitchen
  27. Sleep it off.


Given this is tex mex focused – i think i’d start off with a margarita

For the salad and shrimp – gruner veltiner, sauv blanc, or gewurzt

For chicken – big cali chard

For chili – zin

For sopes – Syrah