South Dakota bison on the president’s menu

Farm Forum

WASHINGTON — South Dakota bison will be on the menu when congressional leaders entertain President Barack Obama and his family at a post-inaugural luncheon on Jan. 21.

They will be served a farm-to-table menu celebrating the inaugural theme, “Faith in America’s Future,” Obama Foodorama reported Jan. 8.

The hour-long luncheon for 225 guests to be served in the National Statuary Hall will feature steamed Maine lobster tail topped with a New England clam chowder sauce, placed atop vegetables.

The main course will be smoked hickory-grilled bison tenderloin purchased from Western Buffalo Co. in Rapid City, S.D., with a wild huckleberry reduction. It will be accompanied by a red potato horseradish cake, pureed butternut squash, and sauteed red cabbage, sweetened with a little strawberry preserve, which Obama Foodorama, a food blog, described as “a nod to the return of canning to the American kitchen.”

The main course also will be accompanied by green beans with golden beets — even though the Obama family is known for its aversion to beets.

“I am a believer that there is a beet gene,” first lady Michelle Obama said in 2010. “People who love beets love them and people who hate beets can’t stand them. Neither the president nor I have the beet gene.”

Although the bison will come from South Dakota and the wine will be Korbel Inaugural Cuvee from California, most of the meal will spotlight small and artisan farmers and food producers from New York, because the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is chaired by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

The dessert will be Hudson Valley apple pies, topped with sour cream ice cream and a maple caramel sauce, and accompanied by a bit of honeycomb and wedges of Toma Celena and Jersey Girl Colby, both from Cooperstown Cheese Co. in New York.

Featured entree

“There may be disagreement on a lot of issues in Washington, D.C., but we know that everyone will enjoy the great tasting bison at the Inaugural Luncheon,” Dave Carter of the National Bison Association said. “And, the first lady has to be pleased to know that her luncheon guests are enjoying a great tasting American meat that is low in fat and high in protein and iron.”

Carter noted that the Inaugural Luncheon will not be the first time bison has been on the menu of a White House event. Bison was the featured entree at the state dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron in March, and at a NATO Summit session in Chicago hosted by Michelle Obama last spring. George W. Bush also served bison at a state dinner during his presidency.

The recipe for the smoked bison tenderloin with a wild huckleberry reduction is available on the National Bison Association website at

Carter also noted that the National Bison Association, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Intertribal Buffalo Council, launched an initiative in early 2012 to designate bison as the official national mammal of the United States. That designation is embodied in The Bison Legacy Act, introduced last year by Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and other members of Congress.