Saturday, May 7, 2016

Kentucky Derby 2016

The Kentucky Derby race is considered by many the greatest two minutes in sports.

The Derby is frequently referred to as "The Run for the Roses," because a lush blanket of 554 red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year. The tradition is as a result of New York socialite E. Berry Wall presenting roses to ladies at a post-Derby party in 1883 that was attended by Churchill Downs founder and president, Col. M. Lewis Clark. This gesture is believed to have eventually led Clark to the idea of making the rose the race's official flower. However, it was not until 1896 that any recorded account referred to roses being draped on the Derby winner. The Governor of Kentucky awards the garland and the trophy.
An invite to a party today sent me on a hunt for some authentic recipes. A Kentucky Derby menu is steeped in tradition with a cuisine of southern flavors, bourbon and traditional mint juleps. Besides the foods lest not forget all those outrageous hats that celebrate the event.

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Each year, almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.
Mint Julep makes 2 servings
Total time: 5 minutes, plus more for simple syrup preparation

  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup (see below)
  • 4 fresh mint sprigs
  • Shaved ice
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • Powdered sugar
  • Mint leaves
  • Pour 1 tablespoon simple syrup into 1 tall glass.
  • Add 2 sprigs mint, crush slightly (muddle) and add ice.
  • Stir in 1/3 cup bourbon.
  • Add more ice to fill glass and sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with mint. Repeat with remaining ingredients for second glass.
Simple Syrup Ingredients and Directions:
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Stir boiling water into sugar until sugar dissolves. Simple syrup will keep almost indefinitely refrigerated in covered container.

Baby Hot Kentucky Browns
Cook's notes: Typically, this open-faced Kentucky classic is made with a heavy cheese sauce, but I found a recipe that delivers the same richness without all the saturated fat.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living
  • 24 pumpernickel party rye bread slices
  • 1- 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey or deli turkey
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked, crumbled, and divided
  • 5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced 
Parmesan Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Arrange bread slices on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil 6 inches from heat for 1 minute per side
  • To prepare the sauce, combine the olive oil, butter, and minced garlic in a medium sized pan over medium to low heat. Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour until a thick mixture has been created
  • Slowly add in the chicken broth and then milk
  • Increase the heat and allow the mixture to get to a boiling point, reduce and allow to simmer until thickened stirring occasionally
  • Add in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste 
  • Stir in diced turkey
  • Top bread evenly with warm cheese-turkey mixture. Sprinkle evenly with a few extra tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and half of bacon
  • Bake at 450° for 2 minutes or until Parmesan is melted
  • Top with tomato slices, and sprinkle evenly with remaining bacon
  • To make ahead: Prepare the cheese-turkey mixture, cook the bacon, and grate the Parmesan the day before the party.
  • To reheat cheese mixture, place pan over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and warm. 
  • Assemble and proceed as directed
How about a decadent dessert to mark the occassion?
Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe
Cook's Note: This recipe makes a large amount of batter, so be sure to use a 10-inch deep dish pie pan. A stoneware pie pan with high sides works well. When shaping and fluting the pie crust, make sure to bring the sides up high enough to hold all the pie filling. 
Recipe for 10-inch Single Crust Pie Crust 
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1-1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, shelled and chopped in half if desired
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Roll pie crust out from your favorite recipe or use a store bought pre-baked pie crust
  • Line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan with the dough, and flute the edges as desired.
  • In a large mixing bowl on medium speed mix butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy.
  • Fold in chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts. Blend well.
  • Pour into prepared pie crust and cover edge of pastry with 2-3 inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning 
  • Bake at 350 for 45-50 or until set.
  • Serve warm, or cool completely before serving with whipped cream 
And now for the star attraction:
My best picks for today's race 
Nyquist 3-1
Exaggerator 8-1
Mohaymen 10-1
Gunrunner 10-1
Creator 10-1

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