Derby Day mint juleps, bourbon slush, benedictine and burgoo with just a smidge of squirrel
May 7th, 2011
02:00 AM ET
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As folks love to say, the Kentucky Derby is the fastest two minutes in sports - but what are your party guests going to do for the rest of the evening? Keep your gathering galloping right along with these classic dishes and drinks from the Bluegrass State.

Keep in mind that there are as many methods and recipes as there are residents of the state, so feel free to share your favorite in the comments below.

Also on the menu:
Chef Edward Lee's Derby Day favorites
Mint juleps, five ways for Derby Day
Mutton, pork butts and burgoo – an intro to Kentucky barbecue
Burgoo who?

Simple Mint Julep

1 tsp sugar
Handful of clean mint leaves
Additional mint sprig
Crushed ice
3 oz bourbon

Note: Juleps are traditionally served in silver cups because they retain an even chill. If you don't have one, a chilled tumbler will do just fine.

Spoon the sugar into the bottom of the cup. Place the leaves on top of the sugar and crush, pushing down and twisting with a muddler or wooden spoon until slightly pulped.

Fill the cup with crushed ice, pour the bourbon over the ice, garnish with the mint sprig and serve.

Want to get fancier? Here are five more mint julep recipes.

Bourbon Slush

Bourbon slush was standard on party buffet tables when I was growing up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, but I've rarely - if ever - seen it served outside of Northern Kentucky. That's a real shame.

Here's a fairly standard recipe that packs a solid, sneaky alcohol wallop, as it goes down so very smoothly. It's easy to double, triple or quadruple, but fair warning - you can never have enough on hand, because no one ever has just one.

My husband and I sampled it at our annual Derby Day party as well as our wedding. Now guests to subsequent soirees barely say hello upon arrival. Even the most demure bee-line for the freezer to scoop out a drink and then start in with the pleasantries.

12 ounces lemonade frozen concentrate
6 oz orange juice frozen concentrate
2 cups sugar
2 cups hot strong tea
2 cups bourbon
7 cups water
Ginger ale or lemon-lime soda to taste.

In a lidded, freezer-proof container or two (Tupperware and Rubbermaid pitchers work well), stir together all ingredients except ginger ale until thoroughly blended. The concentrate should not be prediluted with water, and plain tea like Lipton or Red Rose works well.

Place the container(s) in the freezer overnight or for at least 4-6 hours depending on the make and model of your appliance. It should be firm all the way through, but it will not freeze completely solid.

Scoop around half to three quarters of a cup of the slush into a tumbler, top with ginger ale or lemon-lime soda to taste and serve.

And did I mention how sneaky it is? Keep an eye on your guests, lest they slip too far into the slush pile.

Note: Don't splurge on the good stuff for this. Save your Woodford and Booker's for sipping and juleps (and hand your Van Winkle on over this way). Evan Williams is cheap, respectable and gets the job done.

Kat's Brooklyn Burgoo

Serves 30-40 hungry guests.

2 lbs bone-in pork (shank, neck, etc.)
2 lbs bone-in veal (shank, breast, etc.)
2 lbs bone-in beef (shank, tails, etc.)
2 lbs bone-in lamb (shank, breast, etc)
1 4-pound whole chicken, skin-on
8 quarts cold water
1 1/2 lbs potatoes
1 1/2 lbs onions
1 bunch carrots, diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 quart tomato puree
2 cups whole kernel corn, fresh or canned
2 pods red pepper
2 cups diced fresh or frozen okra
1 cup diced celery
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Place all the meat (no need to chop it up) into a 4 gallon or larger pot and cover it with cold water. Bring it to a boil, and simmer until the bones slide out easily, and the chicken fully collapses. Remove all the meat and bones from the stock, discard the bones and chicken skin, and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces once it's cooled.

Peel and dice the onions and potatoes, and add them to the stock along with the chopped meat and all remaining vegetables. Simmer until thick, stirring often. As it gets thicker, stirring should become more frequent to prevent the bottom from burning. The cooking may 8-10 hours or more to complete, and the objective is to break down the meat and vegetables until the consistency is uniform - almost like a gravy.

Once it's to this state, pull out the pepper pods (if you can find them - and if you can't, then please caution guests!), and season with salt, cayenne, Tabasco and Worcestershire to taste. I tend to under-season a little, heat-wise and allow guests to apply hot sauce as liberally as they desire.

Serve in a bowl with a hunk of cornbread, and accept any offers of shoulder and arm massages. You'll need 'em.

Note: Many traditional recipes call for squirrel. The legalities vary from place to place and it's exceptionally unlikely that you'll find any for sale. If you're handy with a shotgun - have at it, or make the acquaintance of someone who is. The squirrels should be thoroughly skinned and gutted. Add the whole squirrels (minus the heads and feet) when you're cooking the rest of the meat - and make sure to warn any squeamish guests.

Kentucky Benedictine Dip

1 large cucumber
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 small white onion
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp sour cream
Green food coloring (optional)

Peel the cucumber, and either juice it with a citrus juicer, or grate as finely as possible. With either method, reserve the juice and set aside. Follow the same procedure with the onion.

Combine cucumber pulp/shreds, 2 tbsp onion pulp/shred, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, and optional green food coloring in a bowl or food processor, and blend, adding cucumber juice and onion juice until desired taste, color, and smoothness is achieved.

Serve with crudité, crackers or triangles of cocktail rye.

More on Kentucky's cuisine:
Kentucky Hot Brown is 'the ultimate drunk food'
The indulgence of pickled rope baloney
Chef Edward Lee's Derby Day favorites
Mint juleps, five ways for Derby Day
Mutton, pork butts and burgoo – an intro to Kentucky barbecue
Burgoo who?

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Tess

    Brandy slushes are in our family cookbook. They were my mom's standard summer party 'beverage'. In the mid-West. We have no connections to Kentucky, and not sure where she found the recipe but it's been a family favorite since the 70's.

    May 2, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
    • Tess

      Wisconsin and Michigan.....

      May 2, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
  2. Stephen Bradley

    (A Proper Kentucky) Mint Julep:
    Prepare simple syrup Derby Eve by dissolving granulated sugar into spring water over heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly so that the sugar doesn't burn. Add about a handful of spearmint leaves and lightly mash into the mixture. Refrigerate overnight.
    Fill a silver julep cup with shaved ice and adding a sprig of mint. Once the cup has frosted over, mix 3 parts (high quality) bourbon to 1 part simple syrup and add more shaved ice to top off. Add a straw snipped off to bury the nose into the aroma and flavor. Handle the julep cup only by the base and rim of the cup so as not to transfer body heat to the mixture. After a few of these, you will be a real handicapper (really handicapped). Good luck!

    May 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  3. 58sage

    This is why i don't eat much when traveling through that part of the country – – the methods show no finesse. I have no problem with the idea of cooking game, may even trap a backyard rabbit or tree rat now that I know how good they might be.
    BUT JUST THROW IN AND BOIL??? How Rude! Any cook knows that you bring to a boil, then quickly reduce your heat to a slow, bare simmer. Otherwise, the meats you cook become bland & tough. I hate when folks cook without any regard for texture and taste! Call me a foodie snob, I love it! LOL!

    May 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  4. Mark Pruett

    Historically, burgoo was a sort of oatmeal porridge eaten by sailors, not some kind of funky stew.

    May 9, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  5. Has it stopped snowing up there yet?

    Idiot comments from the Northeast. My how the libtards are gay.

    May 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Libtard

      I'm so "happy!"

      May 9, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  6. Prince Charles

    I am betting £100 on my wife Camilla to win by a nose. She likes the whip!!

    May 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  7. Jim Nabors

    Back Home Again In Indiana..wait a minute–Where's the race cars at? Shayzammmm!!!!!

    May 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  8. WHead3rd

    The words Evan Williams and respectable should never be used in the same sentence.

    May 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • MalaDee@WHead3rd

      In a drink like this (or a Goombay smash – yum!) any bourbon or whiskey would be respectable enough. The point was if you use top-shelf, the quality will be lost in a drink like this.

      May 9, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Carn E. Vore

      I'll take Evan Williams over Jack Daniels or Jim Beam any day of the week. Of course, I'll take Booker's over 'em all.

      May 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
  9. Duke13

    Mint Julep = The world's worst drink.

    Prediction to win: Shackelford by a length.

    May 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Devo

      Whip it-Whip it Good!!

      May 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • You Lose

      Prediction – Shackleford 14th. What a nag.

      May 7, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  10. RichardHead

    Pants on Fire to Win and a Hot Brown for everyone. Enjoy the day Kat!

    May 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  11. twophad

    I thought a mint julep WAS sort of a bourbon snowcone!

    May 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
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