Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Since 1875: The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is the most famous horse race in the world. It always occurs on the first Saturday in May. This year will be the 137th run for the roses, which takes place at historic Churchill Downs in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky.

I was lucky when I attended The Derby.  Not only did I pick the Derby winner, along with a “win,”“place” or “show” horse [one ticket: horse has to come in 1,2, or 3 to win], my friends and I chose a spot in the infield to stand, that turned out to be only a few yards away from a direct, eye-level-view of the starting gate.  After the horses are (loaded into the gates and) off, the gates are pulled away and that area on the racetrack becomes the finish line!  So we saw the most meaningful and exciting parts of the race up close.  I watched my horses come in first and third, and we did a lot of jumping up and down, ourselves.  It was also beginner's luck, and I haven't bet on 3-year old thoroughbreds since, other than drawing names out of a hat.  Since I'm not a gambler, I'd hate to mar my horse racing, winning streak.

The Kentucky Derby has many traditions that add to the joyful exuberance of the race, itself.  Some are very practical.  You must wear a big hat to cover your head at Churchill Downs, or else you'll sizzle like a walking-talking piece of bacon in the hot sun.

An icy Mint Julep is THE drink to quench your thirst at The Derby.  Here's how to make an authentic one:

Ingredients for each serving:

5 fresh mint sprigs
2 teaspoons fine sugar
About 2 tablespoons water
2 ounces good Kentucky bourbon [guidance]
Crushed Ice

Directions:

1. Rub the mint leaves with your fingers and drop into a silver Mint Julep Cup.  (Or use a glass tumbler.)
2. Crush the mint leaves at the bottom of the cup with a spoon.
3. Add 2 teaspoons fine sugar
4. Add about 2 tablespoons water and stir.
5. Add 2 ounces bourbon.  Stir.
6. Overfill the cup with crushed ice -- over the top snow cone-style.  If you use a silver cup, it will frost on the outside.
7. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
 
The Kentucky Derby is, indeed, the most exciting two minutes in sports.  If you can't make it to Louisville this year, you can still throw a great Derby Party with all the traditions and food.  Don't even think of serving your guests bourbon, without feeding them a hearty meal.  Deviled eggs, country ham, Hot Browns (open face turkey with Mornay sauce) and Derby Pie (chocolate and walnuts) are customary … and scrumptious!

You can also make a hugh pot of Kentucky Burgoo and corn bread.  Here's how:

Ingredients:

1 chicken, 3 to 4 pounds
1 ½ pounds chuck roast beef cubes
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 ½ teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
½  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (about 28-32 ounces) tomato puree
6 medium potatoes
2 large onions, chopped
4 stocks celery, chopped
1 medium head cabbage, finely chopped
2 28 ounce cans tomatoes
2 16 ounce bags frozen corn
1 pound fresh carrots, sliced
1 cup fresh sliced okra 
*16 ounces green beans
16 ounces lima beans
2 bell peppers, red and green, finely chopped
Salt to taste, begin with 1 tablespoon
1/4 to 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
Optional: 2 cups red wine
Other spices to taste: Garlic, cilantro, parsley, red pepper flakes, etc.

Optional:  Some folks use ham hocks, lamb and/or rabbit in this dish.  I do not.

Directions:

1) Stew the meat, beef broth and water in a stockpot for one hour.
2) Remove from the stove, reserve the liquid, but remove the skin, fat and bones from the meats.
3) Shred the meat and return it to the pot.
4) Add the vegetables, spices and other liquids.
5) Simmer on low heat for 4 hours.

Watch The Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7th on NBC.  Post time is about 6:30 pm, right after the University of Louisville band plays and people sing, “My Old Kentucky Home.”  No need to stand in your living room for the state song ... unless you wish to show your Derby spirit.
Red rose
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5 comments:

  1. I'll have one of those Mint Juleps, please!

    ReplyDelete
  2. hello, nice posting. and useful information

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is one your best yet. Instead of Woodford, I would go for "Parkers Heritage" bourbon (from Heaven Hill Distillery) if I could find any around New York.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The best way to attend the Kentucky Derby is to purchase a package that includes your tickets to the Derby and Oaks (upgrades available), Airport Transfers, Hotel Accommodations, Hospitality access, a free gift and much more.

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