Hamilton-Themed Recipes to Transport You Into the Room Where it Happened
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard of this brilliant musical phenom called Hamilton, created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. The theater nerd in me wishes I was able to score tickets to actually see it on Broadway, but alas, I’ve had the three-hour soundtrack to keep me company since last year. And the score is nothing short of amazing! I listen to it almost every day while cleaning up, going for a daily walk, or when I make the four-hour drive from Alabama to Georgia. Anytime there’s an opportunity to combine hip-hop with history, you can count me in. Not to mention, the Founding Fathers who make up the Tony Award-winning musical are a true reflection of just how diverse America is today, both sonically and culturally.
Needless to say, my obsession kicked into overdrive when I heard PBS was airing a documentary entitled Hamilton’s America on October 21 (tonight, folks!) as part of their Great Performances series. Of course I’ll be tuned in to watch Miranda and cast member Leslie Odom Jr. discuss the show and all its success, and I’ll finally get the chance to see the magic as it happened on stage as well as some never-before-seen footage. So in lieu of all the fanfare and the dopest Secretary of the Treasury, I went on the hunt to find the foods Alexander Hamilton loved to eat. During the process, I was inspired by the song, “The Room Where It Happens.”
In the song, Hamilton’s Aaron Burr (played by Leslie Odom Jr.) sings, "No one else was in the room where it happened/ No one really knows how the game is played/ The art of the trade/ How the sausage gets made/ We just assume that it happens."
Brace yourselves, people. Here comes a history lesson if you don’t know the story or the man behind the ten-dollar bill:
At a dinner that took place in 1790, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton came together to hash out the financial plans of the federal government as it related to the states’ debts. Because nothing goes together quite like food and taxes, right? So the “dinner table bargain” deal (or the “sausage” as it’s referred to in the song) was struck. That had to have been some fancy dinner spread because it changed the course of the country and led to what we refer to now as the Compromise of 1790. Consider yourselves informed.
Although those three men are the only ones who know what really happened in that room behind closed doors, it doesn’t mean we can’t have a seat at the table (well, sort of). Luckily, we’ve got an excerpt from Charles A. Cerami’s book, Dinner at Mr. Jefferson’s to take us through each course and mimic the menu with some inspired recipes. On to the Hamilton-esque dinner party, shall we?
Starter Salad: Roasted Kabocha and Kale Salad
"As soon as they saw that the salads had been disposed of, two servants were quick to bring in helpings of the first course that had been kept warming just outside the door."
First Course: "Jefferson" Virginia Ham Pasta
"In keeping with the Monticello custom, there were two main courses. The first was a capon stuffed with Virginia ham and chestnut puree, artichoke bottoms, and truffles, with a bit of cream, white wine, and chicken stock added. It as served with a Calvados sauce, made with the great apple brandy of Normandy that Jefferson had brought back from his travels."
Second Course: One-Pot Beef Stew
"As time passed, the second main course would prove to be the New York version of the famed boeuf a la mode, without which no Monticello dinner was considered complete. This was really an elegant beef stew that was a universal favorite. James Hemmings had made it before going to France with Jefferson. He had added certain flavoring touches that he learned in France, and now the beef was a masterpiece that Hamilton praised extravagantly. They briefly fell silent while doing it justice with genuine enjoyment."
Petit Four: Chocolate-Coconut Macaroons
"There were meringues, macaroons, bell fritters, and other small sweets in endless varieties in front of each man, waiting to be consumed before the dessert. At the same time, Hamilton kept talking with a fluency that the host [Jefferson] had to admire."
"And then, at the precise moment when the evening was approaching perfection, came the universally favorite dessert--the delicious vanilla ice cream that still seemed like a miracle for it was enclosed in a warm pastry, like a cream puff, giving the illusion that the ice cream had come straight from the oven. it never failed to elicit cries from the groups of diners at Monticello, and it did not fail now. Even Madison gave a small squeal, and Hamilton positively exulted."
Help us celebrate Hamilton’s America airing live tonight on PBS at 9 p.m., as well as my admiration for the man who rose from humble beginnings to a powerful position in our government. Invite your friends over, pull up a chair, pour some wine, strike up some timely political conversation, and make it a feast! To tide you over, here's an extended trailer of what you can expect to see.