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Derby delights

Wed., April 24, 2013

A Kentucky Hot Brown and Run for the Roses Derby Pie will hit the spot on Kentucky Derby day. (Tyler Tjomsland)
A Kentucky Hot Brown and Run for the Roses Derby Pie will hit the spot on Kentucky Derby day. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Give your ‘Run for the Roses’ party a traditional flair

“And they’re off …”

Often referred to as the “most exciting two minutes in sports” or the “Run for the Roses,” the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place on May 4.

The first Derby was run in 1875, and before each Derby a fancy party was held at the track in which all of the ladies were given roses by the owner. In 1896, it became a tradition to present a garland of roses, with a crown of roses located at the crest, and place it on the winning horse at the end of the race. This tradition continues today.

The parties still take place each year in Louisville, Ky., they just last longer and are much larger and have multiple events. Now, there are more than 150,000 attendees for the Derby Day race alone. Many celebrities and royalty attend the Derby and its parties each year. This year the events kicked off on Saturday with Thunder over Louisville, including fireworks, concerts and a steamboat race on the Ohio River. A number of high-society charity events around town and lots of fancy wide-brimmed hats decorated with floral sprigs take place close to race day, as well.

As a former executive chef at Churchill Downs, I know that a big part of the Derby is the food and drinks. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to throw a Kentucky Derby party. You can make it as over-the-top or as simple as you like, and you don’t have to invite Paris or Nicky Hilton.

The traditional foods for the Derby come from various influences. Some come from the small inns and grand hotels in and around Louisville. Also playing a part are the various ethnic and cultural influences in the area and old Southern cuisine and recipes. The Kentucky Hot Brown, for example, came from a traditional dish originally made with leftover roasted turkey at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville.

Once y’all have some ideas for your Derby food and drinks, here are a few decorating tips for your party: Cover bistro tables with checkered or different pastel tablecloths. China and crystal are also a nice touch. Decorate with lots of roses, spring flowers and centerpieces with horse-related themes. In addition, horseshoes can be scattered throughout and perhaps add a finish-line banner to your display.

The Derby can be viewed locally on NBC KHQ-6 with network coverage and host Bob Costas beginning at 1 p.m. on May 4.

The Kentucky Hot Brown

From chef Timothy Grayson, executive chef Whitworth University.

4 ounces butter

4 ounces all-purpose flour

32 ounces heavy cream

1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish

Salt and black pepper, to taste

28 ounces sliced roasted turkey breast

4 slices Texas Toast, crust trimmed and toasted

8 slices crispy bacon

4 Roma tomatoes, sliced


Fresh parsley, chopped

In a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven-safe dish large enough to hold the toast and cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the sliced Roma tomatoes and place them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour 1/4 of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish into oven on broiler setting until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Run for the Roses Derby Pie

From chef Timothy Grayson, executive chef Whitworth University.

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

4 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine the eggs, sugar, melted butter and bourbon. Add the cornstarch to the mixture, blending in slowly.

Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Score with fork.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for approximately 45 minutes.

Yield: 8 servings

Derby Mint Julep

From chef Timothy Grayson, Whitworth University. This version is for adults only. More than 100,000 of these will be sold at the Derby.

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Fresh mint sprigs

Crushed ice

2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon per julep

Make simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for 5 minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with 8 to 10 sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.

Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup or small rocks glass with crushed ice, adding 1 tablespoon mint syrup and 2 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon. Stir. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.


1 pound mixed meat (beef, lamb, pork, chicken or game), cut into medium cubes

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

2 large carrots peeled, diced

1 small green pepper, diced

1/2 gallon chicken stock

1/2 gallon beef stock

1 ounce Worcestershire sauce

1 cup tomatoes, diced

1 large peeled Russet potato, diced

1/4 cup peas

1 cup cooking sherry

1/2 cup cut okra (optional)

1/4 cup lima beans or shelled edamame beans

1/2 cup yellow cut corn

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

Salt and black pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven or heavy, large soup pot, brown meat with oil and flour over medium-high heat. Then add onions, celery, carrots and peppers and sauté for an additional 4 minutes. Then add all remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce to low heat and simmer for 2 more hours. Skim the top of the pot as needed. Serve with rice and cornbread.

Yield: 6 servings

Benedictine Spread

From chef Timothy Grayson, executive chef Whitworth University.

1 cucumber

1 onion

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened to room temperature

3 tablespoons cucumber juice

2 tablespoons onion juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 drop green food coloring (traditional but optional)

Peel cucumber, cut into pieces and blend in a food processor until liquefied. Drain through a sieve; and reserve the juice. Discard the pulp. Separately, peel the onion, cut into pieces and blend in the food processor. Drain the onion in the same way as the cucumber and reserve the juice, discarding the pulp.

Mix cream cheese and remaining ingredients by hand with a fork until well blended.

Add a drop of green food coloring to achieve the traditional color if desired.

Benedictine Spread is used on tea sandwiches. For a twist on a triple-decker club sandwich, use Benedictine Spread and pimento cheese with bacon and ham or chicken salad. We made these at the Derby Café at the track.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Chef Tim’s Spicy Oven Fried Chicken

From chef Timothy Grayson, Whitworth University

2 pounds chicken pieces

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

1 quart buttermilk

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

2 cups finely crushed cornflakes

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

4 tablespoons melted butter

Place chicken in glass bowl and cover with 1 tablespoon salt, buttermilk and Tabasco sauce and refrigerate overnight. The next day, place in colander and drain, then coat with corn flake crumbs mixed with Cajun seasoning, pepper, remaining salt and parsley flakes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place coated chicken in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle with melted butter and bake for about 1 hour, or until the internal meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Yield: 6 servings

Church Picnic Deviled Eggs

6 eggs, hard cooked and peeled

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar or dill pickle juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

Smoked paprika

4 pieces of crisp cooked apple wood smoked bacon (optional)

Cut eggs in half. Arrange egg whites cut side up on a serving plate and put the yolks in a small mixing bowl. Mash yolks with fork then stir in mayonnaise, mustard, relish and vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper. You can add sun-dried tomatoes if desired for a more upscale look. Mash and stir all ingredients together well. Spoon or pipe with a pastry bag and tip a little bit of the mixture into each egg white half, dividing mixture as evenly as possible between the eggs. Sprinkle eggs with smoked paprika. Another option is to top with a small piece of crispy cooked bacon. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 6 servings, 2 each

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