While the Mint Juleps might be flowing, food is a big part of a Kentucky Derby party. Although there are some traditional Kentucky dishes that can be part of the spread, there are other ways to bring a nod to the Bluegrass State to the table. From traditional fare to something new, there are plenty of delicious food options to enjoy.
Recently, Kentucky Derby Chef Kenneth Hardiman shared his thought process behind this year’s menu. From heirloom ingredients to supporting local farmers, the robust choices have some additional meaning behind the creative flavors. Although the feast is not meant to be a classroom lesson, the menu can open a bigger discussion on food, culture, and heritage.
According to Chef Hardiman, he said that he takes into consideration guests’ expectations. Infusing bourbon flavors, honey, even seasonal ingredients come into play. Although he might not necessarily have signature dish that is showcased every year, he has received positive feedback on many of the offerings. It will be interesting to see how people react to this year’s menu.
In addition, Chef Hardiman understands that his menu needs to be conducive to a large group. Serving all those guests in a timely fashion means that the dishes need to have wide appeal and are easy to execute. The home cook can borrow the simple idea or even appreciate that approach because it keeps them out of the kitchen and enjoying the celebration.
Since many people will be celebrating at home, there are plenty of recipes to make. This year Chef Damaris Phillips shared various recipes, including appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Options include int Julep Cucumber Salad and Fried Chicken Salad Sandwiches to the Kentucky Butter Cake and Bourbon Ball Milkshake. More information can be found at kentuckyderby.com/derbyathome.
For a very simple nod to the South, serving some pimento cheese is an easy option. Whether eaten on its own or used as a condiment on a fried chicken or other dish is a tasty choice.
One classic Kentucky dish is the Hot Brown. The open face turkey sandwich is hearty and satisfying. Even if served after that second (or third) Mint Julep, it can be the dish that feels comforting, especially if your horse did not win, place or show.
Basically, a Kentucky Derby party menu does not have to be too complicated. Grab a bottle of bourbon, some great food, and enjoy the afternoon. Life should not be complicated, and food should always be fun.