OK, the Derby is a GREAT reason to have some friends over (since chances are you, like the rest of us, keep SAYING you’re gonna invite people over but never seem to get around to it!). Here’s why: While the locals celebrate for two weeks prior to the Derby, the race itself is only two minutes long…TWO MINUTES! So if you’re the type that thinks hosting a gathering means hours upon hours of entertaining a houseful of guests – a la Super Bowl and Oscar Parties - the Kentucky Derby just might be THE event for you!! A shorter event means a less expensive event, since the food and drinks don’t need to last nearly as long.
So the Race itself starts at 6PM (EST) which means you can invite folks to arrive as late as 5PM EST if you’d like. There will be lots of coverage on NBC beginning at 4PM. You probably already know that amongst the many Derby traditions, big fancy hats is probably the most notable. You can ask your friends to wear their hats, or set up a fun station with big silk flowers, beads, pearls, feathers and boas (all from any local craft store) and a glue gun or two and make your own!
Print out sheets of the horses in this year’s race and have a pool for everyone to bet on their horse. You can make this as complicated or as simple as you like, but chances are if you hand it over to one of the guys, they will happily take charge of it! The official Kentucky Derby website lists the horses this year as:
The Derby is dubbed The Run for the Roses because the winner receives a garland of more than 400 roses sewn into a green satin fabric backing. Imagine how gorgeous your table would look with a bunch of silk roses (not 400 of course!) from your local Dollar Store hot glued onto a green runner? Honey, please.
At the very least gather several red roses in vases everywhere. Raid the kid’s toys and pull out every plastic and stuffed horse you can find. Display them in groups…remember you get a lot more impact with groupings than you do by scattering things about! I big centerpiece of all different kinds of Barbie horses, army horses and stuffed horses will get noticed and create more of a “WOW” factor than a few horses strewn about here and there. Same goes for trophies and ribbons. Create a big varied display on your mantle with some roses in small vases mixed in…perfect!
Now, you can ask friends to bring a dish, but if you want to add an authentic flair to your gathering, there are a few items that are a MUST at the Derby. One is Burgoo. Don’t let the weird name scare you. Burgoo is basically a stew of whatever meats and veggies are available and is an absolute staple in Kentucky, especially during Derby Week.
- 1 chicken, 3 to 4 pounds
- 1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 can (about 29 ounces) tomato puree
- 12 small potatoes
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 medium head cabbage, finely chopped
- 3 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes
- 3 cans (12 to 15 oz each) whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 pound carrots, sliced
- 1 cup fresh sliced okra
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen butterbeans or lima beans
- 2 green peppers, finely chopped
- 2 to 4 teaspoons salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
In the largest stockpot you own, cook chicken and beef in chicken, beef broth, and water with coarsely ground pepper and cayenne pepper until chicken and meat are very tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove bones, dice and shred chicken and meat and return to the liquid. Add tomato sauce, potatoes, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, corn, okra, lima beans, and green pepper. Season with a little of the salt and pepper and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook slowly for 2 to 3 hours, stirring from the bottom to keep from scorching.Taste and add salt, to taste. Add water, if necessary, to keep from sticking. Offer hot sauce for those who like a little more “kick”.
Serves 10 to 12.
Another staple of the Kentucky Derby menu is the Hot Brown. Now listen, this recipe originated at The Brown Hotelin Louiville, KT back in the roaring ’20s. Everyone would dance the night away and then get hungry late at night (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talkin’ about!). So the chef came up with this simple late night snack that became so popular, it is still made to this day. All it basically is is a broiled open face turkey sandwich with a yummy cream sauce, cheese and bacon. YUMMMMM! You can make these lots of ways (I prefer to serve them very small…the size of a silver dollar…for easier appetizer munching), but here is the original recipe, courtesy of The Brown Hotel:
The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe
4 oz. Butter
Flour to make a Roux (about 6 tablespoons)
3 – 3 1/2 cups Milk
1 Beaten Egg
6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 oz. Whipped Cream (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Slices of Roast Turkey
8-12 Slices of Toast (may be trimmed)
Extra Parmesan for Topping
8-12 Strips of Fried Bacon
Melt butter and add enough flour to make a reasonably thick roux (enough to absorb all of the butter). Add milk and Parmesan cheese. Add egg to thicken sauce, but do not allow to boil. Remove from heat. Fold in whipped cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For each Hot Brown, place two slices of toast on a metal (or flameproof) dish. Cover the toast with a liberal amount of turkey. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the turkey and toast. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until the sauce is speckled brown and bubbly. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of bacon on top, and serve immediately.
Last staple that I mentioned the other day in my Mint Julep Brownie post (and got several emails inquiring about!) is Derby Pie. Derby Pie is one of those goodies in the South that shows up on just about every potluck dessert table, so sometimes it is overlooked for it’s origins. Because the name is actually trademarked, technically this is not the ACTUAL recipe, but lets just say you’ll never know the difference!
Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1 cup english walnuts
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
- 1 ready-made pie crust
- Mix flour and sugar. Add eggs, then butter. Add nuts, chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 – 45 minutes. Test with tooth pick; pie should be chewy but not runny — Bake longer, if necessary.
Now ya’ll have a great Derby Day and remember, its all about being with friends, opening up your home to others, and having FUN!