Are you celebrating the Kentucky Derby this weekend? The folks at Artisan developed a Kentucky Derby Party menu with the help of Edward Lee (and his cookbook, Smoke & Pickles). Mentions of the Kentucky Derby or Jalapeño-Spiked Bourbon Julep or Bourbon Sweet Tea in social media on a Friday afternoon will get the chatter going. And it’s a good opportunity to introduce another cookbook and chef to your foodies.
Here are a few of Edward Lee’s thoughts on a Kentucky Derby Party, recipes in the book, and kitchen utensils:
Q: What is your ultimate menu for a Kentucky Derby Party at home?
A: Any Derby party must start with a Jalapeño-Spiked Bourbon Julep (p. 222). It sets the tone for the evening by telling you you’re in for an adventure. I’d serve snacks of Pretzel Bites with Country Ham (p. 248) and Fried Olives Stuffed with Pimento Cheese (p. 245) during the cocktail hour because, well, in Kentucky, the cocktail hour always runs past 60 minutes.
Q: Which recipes in the book are your own go-to staples?
A: Not a week goes by without me eating rice bowls, which are as right at a dinner party as they are in a pair of pajamas with a good movie. The pork rice bowl (see p. 102) is a personal favorite. It’s great for a casual dinner with friends.
When I’m in the mood to be a little more grandiose, I go for the T-bone Steak with Lemongrass-Habanero Marinade (p. 67). I bring it out to the table whole and carve it in front of everyone, make a show of it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve served the Bourbon Sweet Tea (p. 228) on a warm humid night and watched the sun go down. It puts people in a good mood, which is why I cook for people.
Q: What kitchen utensil can’t you live without?
A: A heavy cast-iron skillet.
Photo credit: Dan Dry