It’s almost Derby Day in my old hometown, which involves at least two weeks of events leading up to two minutes of horse racing. The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously running sports event in American history. The parties are a big deal, and I have hosted a few. Through the years, certain recipes and dishes have emerged as essentials to serve at any Derby-theme gathering.
Benedictine Spread or Dip
My favorite recipe for Benedictine Spread is the one published by Southern Living: https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/benedictine-spread
If you like a custard pie with chocolate chips and walnuts, you’ll love Derby Pie®️! There are many copycat versions, but buy the real deal if possible. https://derbypie.com/
There are variations, but basically a Mint Julep requires only fresh mint leaves, Kentucky bourbon (must be Kentucky bourbon!), a simple syrup made with sugar and water cooked ahead of time and chilled, and crushed ice. Virgin Mint Juleps are great, too. My favorite recipe is Paula Deen’s: https://www.pauladeen.com/recipe/mint-julep/ Her recipe starts with a mint-infused simple syrup. Yum.
Kentucky Hot Brown
In listing the essentials, I must include the Kentucky Hot Brown. It’s an open-faced sandwich eaten with a knife and fork. The KHB was created in the mid 1920s at the Brown Hotel to feed the late night dance crowds. Basically, it’s turkey on Texas toast topped with plum tomatoes and a cheese sauce browned under a broiler. An easy recipe is found at A Taste of Home: https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/kentucky-hot-brown/
These are my favorite “essentials” although others might argue that I omitted Bourbon balls, Pimento cheese, and Horseradish Deviled Eggs. However you celebrate the Kentucky Derby, remember to wear your lavish bonnet if you’re a lady and your red rose boutonnière if you’re a gentleman.