For those that don’t know, Saturday is Kentucky Derby Day! And being from Kentucky, it’s always a day where I think back on all the Derby parties we have had, all the food we have had, and day to miss that ole bluegrass that is my Kentucky home.
Yes. I know. I haven’t lived there in well over 34 years, but I was born there and will always consider it my home. Not that Virginia isn’t my home, too, but…well…those that are born there will understand. It’s always home no matter how long you’ve been gone.
Surprisingly enough, I haven’t cooked many of our traditional fare for the Derby parties. So, I scoured the net and found some delicious recipes similar to what we used to cook up for our parties, pre-AKHA.
Pre-AKHA, I was almost always in the kitchen cooking, baking, helping to cook and bake. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in some sort of food prep for these parties. Be it splitting rolls for the sliders, chopping veggies for the crudités, or spreading the pie crust out in the slab pie style Derby Pies we used to make, I was always doing something to help out. It was a requirement on those mornings…and well the nights before. Oh how that “guest bedroom” looked after our cleaning whirlwind. *snort*
Sadly, I can’t share our family Derby pie recipe. It’s a secret. Like Fort Knox secret. I kid you not. Only those in the family and have proven their staying power have access to the recipe. S isn’t a baker, so I’m not worried there. Besides, he has staying power.
These bars from I Sing in the Kitchen look close to what we used to make. It wasn’t feasible to make individual pies in the hay day of the parties. We could get a decent crowd and found it best to make the Derby pie into a slab style pie or pie bars, whatever you want to call them. These are really making me want to whip up a batch for our trip. Hmm… S would think me insane.
Taking up complete and total residence in the corner of the dining room was the ham. For those that don’t know, country ham is a salt cured ham. For it not to be completely and totally inedible with all that sodium, we would boil and then wrap it in blankets to slow cook for a good couple of days. I have no idea how this recipe came about. I never really asked. I never really planned on making country ham that way in my own home. Maybe…one day I’ll have a derby party. Who knows. But, our sliders (we used to just call them ham rolls) looked pretty similar to this recipe from Use Real Butter. Yup. My mouth is watering, too.
I WILL, however, be looking to make a batch of pepper jelly. Mmmm. Pepper jelly. It’s slightly spicy, sweet and sour flavor was a staple at all of our parties. It was Nana’s recipe that started it all. I tried my hand at following her recipe, but the Certo in pouches just isn’t the same as it was in her day. She even said so! You can buy it from Reese, and it’s a decent version, but homemade is so much better!
Stonewall Kitchen has one that tastes pretty good, too. For those city type folks that lived here in Northern Virginia, it was an eye-opening introduction. Just like this recipe from Designed by Dawn Nicole; a Ritz cracker, a spread of cream cheese, a dollop of pepper jelly. *drool*
And of course, no Derby party is complete without Beer Cheese! Now this I have made! My version is a bit lighter than the regular batch we would whip up. I really like how this version came out. It’s really light and spreads super easily! The sharp cheddar, the onion and garlic, the little kick from some cayenne all make for a delicious spread for crackers or veggies!
Last but not least, EVERYONE….E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E! had to have a Mint Julep, like this one from A Spicy Perspective. Dad would have his obligatory one mint julep and then move on to Makers and water. I honestly don’t remember if I’ve ever had one or not. Yup.
Just realized I lost my KY card just then… *sigh* We would make the mint simple syrup the and allow it to cool in the fridge. I can still remember the mint aroma filling the kitchen. So crisp and fresh. Just like Spring! Dad would muddle the mint, add some ice, add some syrup, add some bourbon and voila! I fondly remember the EKU keychain that was attached to the measuring spoon hanging over the side of the little white pitcher that held the syrup. It’s funny the things you remember growing up.
So, if you’re planning a Kentucky Derby Party, make sure to whip up these traditional dishes to offer your guests! Trust me, they’re typical, traditional, and TOTALLY Kentucky Derby!