Saturday, April 23, 2011

Derby Party Preparation and Menu

The Derby is only a few weeks away!  Do you have a favorite horse yet? Have you picked out your Derby hat?  I've been busily planning our menu full of Derby specialties and traditional Kentucky food. Yum!

Here's a list of menu items so far:

- Kentucky Burgoo 
traditional Kentucky horse racing cuisine usually sold at race tracks; consists of a vegetable and beef-based stew with various meats included.

- Homemade Biscuits 
I think these will be yummy with the Burgoo...

- Mini Hot Browns
miniature-sized versions of the famous Kentucky dish first served by the Brown Hotel in Louisville; consists of small party-sized rye or sourdough bread squares topped with turkey, a special white cheese sauce, onion, bacon crumbles, and parsley; then baked in the oven.

- Corn Pudding
a traditional southern food combining corn, eggs whites and yolk, milk, flour and sugar, then baked. A delicious recipe from my husband's stepmother who grew up Eastern Kentucky. 

- Homemade Beer Cheese (with raw veggies and crackers)
another traditional Kentucky specialty, still served at in some Kentucky restaurants. Hall's on the River is famous for it. There are many recipes for this, but the one we use involves a pre-made mix of spices, sharp cheddar cheese, beer, mayo, and a few other special ingredients. 

- Benedictine Finger Sandwiches
a typical Derby food, consisting of a cucumber, onion, and cream cheese spread with a pinch of paprika sandwiched between thinly sliced white bread. I sometimes tint mine with a drop of green food coloring. 

- Fresh Picked Strawberries with Bourbon-Vanilla Cream
I pick up fresh NC strawberries from local farmers a day or two before the party and I allow them to warm up to room temperature before guests arrive for the best flavor. To make the bourbon vanilla cream I just combine sour cream with a little brown sugar, vanilla flavoring and a splash of bourbon.

- Sauteed Herb Cherry Tomatoes
these are super easy to make; just gently saute your cherry tomatoes in olive oil with your favorite combination of Italian herbs until tender. 

- Amie's Derby Pie
This is an easy recipe and is often the most requested one at the party. It is similar to a pecan pie but with chocolate. I also use a small splash of bourbon for extra flavor. Derby Pie is a must-have for your Kentucky Derby Party. Leave me a comment or send me an email for the recipe! 

- Bourbon Balls
A sweet Kentucky delicacy: these are often sold at Kentucky Bourbon distilleries and many families make them for the Holidays. The Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory (in my hometown of Frankfort) is credited for first inventing the bourbon ball during the 1930s. I will provide you with the recipe for your party below:

1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup plus 2 tsp bourbon
1 1/2 tbsp milk
7 1/2 cups powdered sugar (approx)
1 package of semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tbsp shortening
Pecan halves to put on top

Combine butter, bourbon and milk; add sugar until mixture is stiff dough. Shape into small balls. Put in fridge until balls are firm, or you can freeze in zip-lock bags until ready to use.  Melt chocolate chips and shortening.  You can use a little shaved paraffin if you want a crisper chocolate coating.  I use a small saucepan sitting in a large skillet of water.  Dip balls into chocolate with a toothpick to cover all of the ball.  Shake off excess chocolate.  Press a pecan half on top of ball covering toothpick hole.  Let cool on foil lined cookie sheets in fridge.  For an extra kick, you can soak pecans in bourbon before placing on balls.  Store in tins or airtight container. 

Drinks to be served include:

- Mint Juleps
The official drink of the Kentucky Derby. A combination of bourbon, ice, crushed fresh mint, and simple syrup. Garnish with fresh cut mint sprigs.

- Mint Tea
a wonderful sweet tea recipe steeped with mint leaves and lemon.

- Bourbon Brown Ale (that my husband brewed himself!)

Be sure to check out my first post on the Derby Party series here and stay tuned for more to come! If you are planning a party for the Derby, feel free to leave a comment and to share your plans or recipes. I'd love to hear from you!