Kentucky Derby at Home

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Celebrate the 150 th running of the legendary Kentucky Derby at home with your own “Run for the Roses” themed party! The Kentucky Derby makes for the greatest of all theme parties, from the invitation, to the hats, and the julips and red roses to the menu. Here are some recipes for serving traditional Derby snacks!

Benedictine Cucumber Spread

  • 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons cucumber juice
  • ½ large cucumber, grated and strained
  • 1 tablespoon onion juice, from a grated and strained onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Small drop of green food coloring, if desired

Combine all ingredients, including 1 or 2 drops of optional food coloring, if desired. Blend with a fork or in a blender until smooth.
Spread mixture between slices of soft bread. Remove crusts and slice into triangles. Or, transfer mixture into a small bowl and serve as a dip for fresh vegetables or a spread for
crackers. Serves 6.

Hot Crab Dip

(From the Kentucky Derby, Woodford Reserve Collection)

  • 8-ounce package crema cheese
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup grated gruyere cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crab

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Stir together in a large bowl cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, scallions,
Worcestershire sauce, gruyere cheese and dry mustard.
Season with salt and pepper; mix to combine.
Gently fold in crab, making sure not to break up the crab.
Transfer to a small ramekin and bake until bubbling. Allow to cool slightly before serving with shortbread crackers or toasted pitas.

Tam’s Pimento Cheese

(Every good Southerner has a favorite pimento cheese recipe, here is mine)

  • 1 8 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 8 oz. block Colby/cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped green chilies with juice
  • 1 4 oz. diced pimientos
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (can use light)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worchestershire Sauce
  • 4 – 5 shakes red pepper
  • 4-5 shakes black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped jalapenos (may use more)

Combine ingredients and chill.

Traditional Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches

(This traditional recipe comes from Chef Billy Parisi, I promise it will be worth it!)

For the Sandwich 8 thick slices of white bread

1 pound thick sliced turkey breast meat
1 recipe of mornay sauce
½ cup finely grated Parmigiana Reggiano and more for garnish
8 slices oven roasted tomatoes
8 crisp cooked slices of bacon
Paprika for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Create the Roux

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Create the Bechamel Sauce

1 quart of whole milk
1 roux recipe (see above)
¼ peeled onion
1 bay leaf
1 clove
Pinch of nutmeg
Sea salt and ground white pepper

Create the Mornay Sauce

1 bechamel sauce (see above)
4 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
2 ounces grated parmesan cheese
Se salt and pepper to taste

For the Roux

Add the butter to a medium size pan over low heat and cook until melted, do not burn it.
Pour in the flour and immediately whisk it over low heat until combined and cook for 2 minutes to form a white roux. Cool until ready to use.
For a blond roux continually whisk it over low heat for 10-15 minutes or until it begins to darken and is light caramel in color. Cool until ready to use.
For a dark roux continually whisk over low heat for 30-35 minutes or until it is very dark brown in color. Cool until ready to use.

For the Bechamel Sauce

Add the milk to a medium-size saucepot over low heat until it scalds. See notes.
Whisk in the roux until it is completely mixed in and smooth and bring just to a boil to thicken, and then turn the heat back down to low.
Next, make a 1” slit into the top of the onion and push the bay leaf into the slice and press the clove into the onion as well and then place the entire thing right into the bechamel sauce and cook for 15 minutes to infuse the flavor.
Add in the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix with a spoon.
Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer like a chinois or some cheesecloth in a regular strainer. The sauce should be silky smooth.

For the Mornay Sauce

Heat the bechamel sauce in a medium-size pot over low heat until hot.
Add in the cheese and whisk until it is completely mixed in and smooth.
Finish by whisking un unsalted butter until melted in and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if it needs it.

To make the Sandwich

Preheat the broiler to high heat.
Start by slicing two thick slices of bread, about 1” thick, then slice one of them in half on a bias from corner to corner.
Next, toast the bread until golden brown and place the square slice of bread in the center of a pan or on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper with the triangle slices on either side of the square.
Place 4 ounces of thick sliced turkey on top of the toasted square.
Generously pour ¼ of the mornay sauce on top of the turkey, completely covering it. You can also cover the triangle slices of toast as well.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of parmigiana Reggiano on top of the cheese sauce.
Place the pan or tray on the middle rack in the oven with the broiler on high for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sauce is lightly browned.
Place 2 oven-sliced oven-roasted tomatoes on top of the sandwich along with the 2 slices of bacon crisscrossed on top of that.
Garnish with more finely grated parmigiana, paprika, and chopped fresh parsley.
Repeat the process 3 more times with the remaining ingredients.
Serve the sandwich on a plate or still in the pan.

Pecan Bourbon Balls

Buttery Toasted Pecans

  • ¼ cup pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper

Bourbon Balls

  • 1, 12-ounce package vanilla wafers, finely crushed
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Powdered sugar for coating

Prepare the Buttery Toasted Pecans: Preheat oven to 325°. Toss together butter and pecans.
Spread pecans in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan; bake 25 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Cool completely. Store up to 1 week.
Prepare the Bourbon Balls: Stir together first 6 ingredients. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar or coarsely chopped Buttery Toasted Pecans. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Yields 3 ½ dozen.