The most exciting two minutes in sports is just days away …
–by Jennifer Ruple
PUBLICATION DATE: 05.02.17
On Saturday, May 6, horseracing’s finest thoroughbreds will take their post positions during the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
I had the pleasure of living in the Bluegrass State for 10 years, from middle school through college. This was when my love affair with the Derby began. As a horse-crazed tween, I soon learned that the Derby was about much more than just one, two-minute race. It’s an experience like no other with fancy hats and dresses, mouthwatering southern food, bouquets upon bouquets of red roses, and posh parties all playing an integral role.
It was not until I was a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University when I was able to make my first visit to Louisville for Derby Day, which also happened to fall on my 19th birthday. Being my birthday, I was feeling very lucky, so I wagered all of my cash on a horse named Cousin Jen. Her performance yielded me $4.
As it was a very warm day, it seemed only fitting to sample a refreshing Mint Julep. Having no prior experience in the bourbon
department, I enthusiastically took a big gulp of my julep. Wrong move! I couldn’t seem to get the rest of it down the hatch, but I did take great comfort in knowing that I got to keep the cute souvenir glass it came in. Twenty some years later, my collection of Derby glasses has grown to 39, and my love for the Derby remains the same. Bourbon… not so much.
If you’re not able to make it to Louisville for the Derby, here are the essentials you need to celebrate at home:
A Big Hat – The pièce de résistance to your party attire, the bigger the hat, the better. Create your own from a simple beach bonnet. Secure a band of colorful ribbon to the hat with hot glue. Remove the stem from a giant silk flower, and hot glue it where the ribbon comes together.
The Beverage – The Mint Julep is the iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby, consisting of bourbon, a simple mint syrup, crushed ice and a sprig of mint.
The Décor – Take your cue from the Derby’s moniker, Run for the Roses. Create a table or buffet centerpiece by arranging a dozen or more red roses in a silver trophy cup. Use silver julep cups to corral small bunches of roses and then add a bit of greenery.
Derby Day Fare – For the buffet, think southern-inspired foods like country ham and biscuits, cheesy grits, beef brisket, Benedictine dip and chocolate bourbon pecan pie.
The Race – If you think you’ve got what it takes to pick the winner, visit kentuckyderby.com to place your bet from home.
Woodford Reserve Classic Mint Julep
2 ounces Woodford Reserve Kentucky
½ ounce simple syrup
3 fresh mint leaves
Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon, and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.
(Recipe from kentuckyderby.com)
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Nothing says southern like bourbon and pecans. Throw in some chocolate and you’ve got a decadent dessert to take your party across the finish line.
Makes 6-8 servings
½ (14.1 ounces) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon or water
4 large eggs
¼ cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons plain white cornmeal
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
Heat oven to 325 F. Fit pie crust into a
9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under and crimp. Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly onto bottom of pie crust.
Stir together corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk one-fourth of hot corn syrup mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot corn syrup mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.
Bake for 55 minutes or until set; cool pie completely on a wire rack for 1 hour.
(Recipe from southernliving.com)