Kentucky Derby party menu
I need to put together a dinner menu for a derby party and I have no idea's what are traditional. I live in Texas and have never even been to Kentucky any help would be great.
not sure about traditional, but i've done derby parties with:
mint juleps (of course)
sweet spiced pecans
baked brie with mango chutney
bourbon brownie balls (anything with bourbon!)
key lime coconut rum balls
macademia coconut tart
tea sandwiches (basil mayo & tomato, etc.)
would love to hear what others have done.
Mint Juleps (even if they are the nastiest things on earth)
Tea sandwiches with Benedictine, Pimento cheese
Hot Browns (main if it's a sit down)
Southern style Potato salad (or mashed potatoes)
Derby pie (Kern's Kitchen)
If it's an outside party... grilled anything... that fits...
If you think mint juleps are "the nastiest things on earth", you're not making them right! Be sure to crush the mint with a pestal to release the flavor, mix with simple syrup (a must - don't just mix with sugar - simple syrup insn't hard to make and can be made ahead of time). Fill a pticher with CRUSHED ice, pour mixture over the crushed ice, then pour some really good bourbon over the ice (don't cheap out on the bourbon.) Stir. Let sit until mixture is ice cold. Fill derby glass with crushed ice, pour drink from pitcher, garnish with a sprig of mint. DELICIOUS! Peggy
Burgoo is traditional, but an acquired taste. It is squirel, chicken, and I think ham. You then cook it all until it it mush. Not my favorite.
I am originally from KY and have done many Derby parties and attended many. Lots of food are traditional for Derby.
Mint Juleps, a waste of good Bourbon.
Black eye peas dip
Country Ham Puffs
Henry Bain Sauce on Ky Bibb lettuce, sauce can be served on any meat, or cream cheese
Cream Puffs stuffed with Benedictine or Pimento cheese
Country Ham www.broadbenthams.com
green beans with a ham hock
As you can see, most Southern food will work.
I like the items at: http://www.atasteofkentucky.com
I've ordered derby paraphernalia from them for years and have never been unhappy with the quality. Check out the "Talk derby to me" line.
As to menu items, at my annual derby party (not a sit down), derby pie is always a hit. Another good Kentuck-esque item are thrown biscuits with country ham (though they're a pain to make -- you have to make them small). If a sit-down party is what you're after, I agree that Hot Browns are a natural choice. Anything with a bourbon accent would work (like things with bourbon bbq sauce).
Of course the most important aspect is the julep. I recommend making a mint-steeped simple syrup a few days in advance of the shindig -- use that plus fresh mint to make the drinks.
I grew up in Lexington, which isn't really the heart of traditional KY cuisine. (Lexington has 2 universities, a P&G plant, and had the IBM Selectric factory, guaranteeing lots of residents from all over the country.) But if you go to the horse track in Lexington, the burgoo will make a convert out of any non-vegetarian.
Mint juleps need not be nasty--just be sure to use decent bourbon! Old Grandad is an excellent value in that regard; it is smoother than Maker's Mark (which is all marketing hype, not particularly good IMO) and has a decent depth of flavor.
I make decidedly non-traditional juleps by steeping fresh mint in my hot sugar syrup and turning the whole affair into a frozen blender drink. That's what comes from growing up in Lexington--we value taste over tradition, sometimes.
Spoonbread really is good. You may also want to make cheese grits as a side.
Traditional KY vegetable preparation involves cooking for 4 hours or more with some fat-back until they're grey. This is not something we ever did in my Lexington household. You could probably go with the All-American green bean/mushroom soup/French's onions. There is an asparagus industry in Kentucky, so if you can find some early asparagus, that would be appropriate.
I have never attended a pot-luck in KY without encountering Ambrosia, which is a jello-salad concoction. Any church cookbook from the South ought to have a recipe for that.
Hot Browns would indeed be a classic, as would burgoo. The Joy of Cooking has a recipe for burgoo, and you need not include road kill. You could also go up north just a little bit and serve Cincinnati style chili, which has some cinnamon in it and is served over noodles.
Chess pie would be a traditional dessert, including chocolate bourbon variants.
I also have thrown many derby parties. All the suggestions above are good...I always serve:
tea sandwiches with benedictine
derby pie (extremely simple and extremely delicious)
I also have served KFC(!) for the past few years...just pop it in the oven to reheat, and in fact guests will think you made it yourself! It is actually surprisingly tasty in the context of a derby party, although fried chicken is not necessarily traditional for derby...