It’s Derby Week! Yes, the Kentucky Derby is one of the fastest sporting events, clocking in at around two minutes, but it’s oh so much fun, even if you simply watch on TV with a few friends. If you
do decide to host a viewing party, be sure to include mint juleps (see our recipe for the hands down best way to pump up the mint flavor), and Hot Browns, (a turkey sandwich fancied up with mouthwatering Mornay sauce and then topped with tomatoes, bacon and Pecorino Romano cheese). The traditional sweet finish is Bourbon Pecan Pie but if you want the same flavors in an easier to eat form, try these Chocolate Chip, Bourbon Pecan Bars. The shortbread cookie crust is a great base for the bourbon-laced filling.
Can’t make it to the Kentucky Derby? Don’t fret. You can take a variety of different tours of Churchill Downs after the crowds disperse.
Chocolate Chip, Bourbon Pecan Bars
For Cookie Crust:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
For cookie crust: In the bowl of food processer, add flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter pieces and process until dough forms. Press into bottom of a greased 8X8 pan, being sure to add about a quarter of an inch around the sides of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven or just until cookie crust begins to brown. Remove and let stand.
For filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and brown sugar. Mix until creamed. Add eggs and bourbon, mix until incorporated. Add flour, chocolate chips and pecans. Mix until just incorporated. Pour filling on top of cookie crust and smooth to the edges. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until filling is firm and top is light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.
It’s Kentucky Derby week! Some of the good eats associated with the Derby include mint juleps (see our recipe for the hands down best way to pump up the mint flavor) and decadent Bourbon Pecan Pie. Add to that Hot Browns, an open faced turkey sandwich fancied
up with mouthwatering Mornay sauce and then topped with tomatoes, bacon and Pecorino Romano cheese. Invented at the Brown Hotel in the 1920s to satiate dinner-dance guests, this knife and fork sandwich has been wowing Louisville residents and visitors for close to a century.
Of course the best Hot Browns are made when you can roast your own turkey. If that is too involved for you, freshly sliced deli turkey will work too. Mornay sauce is a white cheese sauce that is actually very simple to make. Classically made with Gruyere, the Brown Hotel uses Pecorino Romano but we used a sharp cheddar to mix it up a bit.
Don your fanciest hat or fascinator and make your way to Louisville on May 7 for the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
For Mornay Sauce:
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- 4 slices thick sliced white bread with crusts removed, toasted
- 2 pounds sliced turkey, divided
- 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 8 slices cooked bacon
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons finely diced parsley
To make Mornay sauce: In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and make a roux. Cook roux, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add milk in a thin stream and whisk until sauce is thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, add cheese and stir until melted. Add cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Set aside.
To assemble sandwiches: Arrange toasted bread on a baking sheet. Divide the turkey into four equal parts. Top each sandwich with Mornay sauce, then tomato slices, then two slices of bacon arranged in a cross. Sprinkle each sandwich with Pecorino Romano cheese and paprika. Place under broiler for 5 minutes or until tops of sandwiches are bubbling. Sprinkle diced parsley on top before serving.
Hey racing fans, it’s Kentucky Derby season! The quintessential drink to quaff is the Mint Julep. The signature drink of Churchill Downs since 1938 when they first began serving it in souvenir cups
for 75 cents, this delicious concoction is easy to make at home with just a few ingredients. Churchill Downs now serves over 80,000 mint juleps during the two-day Derby.
The trick to this drink is making the mint simple syrup a day or two beforehand. The simple syrup gives the drink a minty oomph that simply muddling the mint leaves won’t do.
The key ingredient is of course, Kentucky Bourbon. If you get the chance to visit Louisville you must designate a driver and then hit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which offers tours of nine different bourbon distilleries. Buy the best Kentucky Bourbon you can afford for this drink, it’s worth every sip.
Bust out your fancy hats and make your way to Louisville on May 1 and 2 for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
For mint simple syrup:
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 bunch mint
- 4 tablespoons mint simple syrup
- 4 ounces of Kentucky bourbon
- 4-6 mint leaves, crushed
- Crushed ice
- Confectioners sugar (optional)
For mint simple syrup: Place water and sugar in saucepan. Heat on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add mint. When cool, place in a glass container overnight in fridge. Remove mint after 24 hours.
For cocktail: Add mint simple syrup and bourbon to cocktail shaker. Shake well. Add crushed iced into two glasses. Divide cocktail into glasses. Add mint leaves. Top with confectioners sugar if desired.
Time to bust out your fancy hats, snappy suits and dresses, it’s Kentucky Derby season! Folks in Louisville (say it right, “Lew-a-vul”) have some menu favorites that will be part of the festivities – among them, mint juleps, Hot Browns (hot turkey club sandwiches with Mornay sauce), rolled oysters, and those little fancy cucumber sandwiches that are cut oh-so elegantly. The sweet finale often is a chocolate chip pecan pie flavored with a bit of Kentucky bourbon.
Continue reading A Race Day Favorite – Kentucky