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Celebrate the Kentucky Derby at home with this party spread

Recipes for Mint Juleps, Benedictine Spread, Pimento Cheese sandwiches and more

HOUSTON – It’s Derby Time! The 146th Kentucky Derby will now happen on Saturday.

But this year’s race will look a little different – no fans will be at Churchill Downs!

You can still join the party by creating your own ‘Derby-inspired’ event at home.

Bring On Derby 2020! #gobabygo #anitahatcompany

Posted by Tim Laird, America's CEO - Chief Entertaining Officer on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Tim Laird, America’s CEO – that’s chief entertaining officer, has some fun ideas to get you started.

Plus, he’s brought in the official executive chef for Churchill Downs – David Danielson to help.

Today on Houston Life with Courtney Zavala and Derrick Shore Derby At Home with Chef David Danielson of Churchill Downs #cheers #gobabygo #thebourboncountrycookbook

Posted by Tim Laird, America's CEO - Chief Entertaining Officer on Thursday, September 3, 2020

Here are some recipes to try for Derby Day.

Signature Mint Julep

Get ready for Derby with this signature mint julep recipe.
Get ready for Derby with this signature mint julep recipe. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Makes: 1 cocktail

Our julep uses a mint simple syrup, which is quicker than muddling and makes the drink easy to make for several people at once. We use Woodford Reserve bourbon, the official bourbon of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more or less simple syrup.

1 ounce Mint Simple Syrup (below)

2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon

1 mint sprig, for garnish

Fill a tall glass or julep cup with crushed ice. Add the syrup and then the bourbon. Top with more crushed ice, add a sipping straw, garnish with the mint, and serve.

Mint Simple Syrup

1 part sugar

1 part water

1 part packed fresh mint leaves

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves, and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes. Strain before using, pressing on the mint leaves to extract as much syrup as possible.

Benedictine Spread

This Benedictine Spread will be the perfect addition to your Derby party.
This Benedictine Spread will be the perfect addition to your Derby party. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Makes: 2½ cups

1 English cucumber, unpeeled

¼ yellow onion

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons sour cream

¼ teaspoon chopped fresh dill

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 drops green food coloring

Kosher salt, to taste

In a food processor or on a box grater, grate the cucumber and onion. Transfer the cucumber and onion to a strainer and drain well by pressing the mixture with the back of a large spoon. Remove as much of the liquid as you can, since too much liquid will make the spread watery.

Transfer the cucumber and onion to the bowl of a food processor. (If you don’t have one, use a small bowl and a fork.) Add the cream cheese. Process the mixture until it’s smooth. Add the sour cream, dill, and pepper and process until combined. Add the food coloring and mix until well incorporated. Taste and add salt as needed. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Bacon and Pecan Pimento Cheese

These Bacon and Pecan Pimento Cheese sandwiches are easy to make and delicious.
These Bacon and Pecan Pimento Cheese sandwiches are easy to make and delicious. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Makes: 3 cups

12 ounces grated sharp yellow cheddar (3 cups)

12 ounces grated extra sharp white cheddar (3 cups)

1 cup mayonnaise, such as Duke’s

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained

¼ cup toasted pecan pieces (see Note)

½ cup cooked and diced bacon (about 8 strips)

½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch celery seed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the yellow cheddar, white cheddar, mayonnaise, pimentos, pecans, bacon, mustard, cayenne pepper, and celery seed. For a smoother mixture, use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. When the mixture is completely combined, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Note: To toast pecans at home, preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until the nuts begin to brown and become fragrant.

Tomato Watermelon Salad

This refreshing salad is great for a party buffet.
This refreshing salad is great for a party buffet. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Makes: 6 servings

3–4 medium heirloom tomatoes, assorted colors, cored and cut into ¾-inch chunks

1 small English cucumber, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes

1 cup ¾-inch cubed yellow or red seedless watermelon flesh

¼ cup sliced red onion

1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh basil and mint (or any herbs you prefer)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, red onion, and herbs. Toss gently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the tomato mixture and toss to coat evenly. Serve chilled

Sweet Potato and Dandelion Salad with Bourbon Sorghum Dressing

Try this new twist on potato salad for your next party.
Try this new twist on potato salad for your next party. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Makes: 6 servings

4 jumbo sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup dandelion greens, stemmed and cut into ½-inch strips (1 bunch)

Bourbon Sorghum Dressing (recipe follows), room temperature

¼ cup salted roasted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

On a baking sheet, spread the sweet potatoes evenly, drizzle them with the canola oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes become tender and are browning around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes and dandelion greens. Add the desired amount of Bourbon Sorghum Dressing and toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving platter, top with the peanuts, and serve.

Bourbon Sorghum Dressing

Makes: 2½ cups

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup sorghum, room temperature

¼ cup bourbon

1 tablespoon grated yellow onion

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon hot sauce

In a blender, combine the oil, vinegar, sorghum, bourbon, onion, salt, paprika, and hot sauce. Blend on low until all the ingredients are combined. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Bourbon Mustard Glazed Beef Short Ribs

Bourbon is the secret ingredient to this short rib recipe.
Bourbon is the secret ingredient to this short rib recipe. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Makes: 6 servings

RIBS

¼ cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds boneless beef short ribs (about 9 pieces)

3 tablespoons canola oil

BRAISING LIQUID

3½ cups beef broth

½ cup bourbon

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 thyme sprigs

3 rosemary spears

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

½ tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To prepare the ribs, in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge the short ribs in the mixture, shaking off any excess flour.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers. Add a few of the short ribs, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until the meat develops a deep brown color. Remove from the pot and repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the meat until all the ribs have been browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To make the braising liquid, in the same pot used to cook the short ribs, combine the beef broth, bourbon, tomato paste, thyme sprigs, rosemary spears, and garlic. Stir until well combined. Transfer the short ribs back to the pot with the braising liquid, cover, and bake in the oven for 2 hours, until the ribs are tender enough to cut with a fork. If they are not tender enough, return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove the ribs from the pot and set aside. Return the pot with the sauce to the stovetop and cook over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is reduced to about 1½ cups. Whisk in the mustard and chopped rosemary. Transfer the meat to a serving platter and pour the sauce over the top.

Hickory Smoked Mac and Cheese

Serve your Mac and Cheese in individual go-to cups for guests
Serve your Mac and Cheese in individual go-to cups for guests (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Makes: 6 servings

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing

16 ounces elbow macaroni

1/3 cup unsalted butter

¾ cup grated yellow onion

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups whole milk

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces grated sharp cheddar, divided (2½ cups)

10 ounces grated Monterey Jack, divided (2½ cups)

Preheat a smoker to 225°F. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet, individual ramekins, or an 11 × 7-inch baking pan with the butter and set aside.

Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions. Drain it and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Whisk in the flour until combined. Slowly whisk in the milk until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in half of the cheddar and half the Jack until the cheeses are melted. Add the macaroni, stirring to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared skillet. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheddar and Jack cheeses. Place the skillet in the smoker and cook for 1 hour, until the mac and cheese is brown and bubbling. Serve warm.

Note: If you don’t have a smoker, you can turn your grill into one by making aluminum foil pouches with wood chips. You’ll need 16 ounces of wood chips and two (12 × 12-inch) pieces of foil. Put 8 ounces of wood chips in one piece of the foil and seal. Repeat with the remaining chips and foil. Poke holes in the pouches and place them directly over the heat. Place the skillet over indirect heat, next to the pouches, and smoke as directed above. Alternatively, bake the mac and cheese in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Reprinted with permission from The Bourbon Country Cookbook by David Danielson and Tim Laird, Agate Surrey, 2018.

“The Bourbon Country Cookbook” is available on Amazon.

"The Bourbon Country Cookbook" features recipes by Tim Laird, America's CEO - that's Chief Entertaining Officer and David Danielson, Executive Chef of Churchill Downs.
"The Bourbon Country Cookbook" features recipes by Tim Laird, America's CEO - that's Chief Entertaining Officer and David Danielson, Executive Chef of Churchill Downs. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

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