Monday, April 30, 2012

The Kentucky Derby

Growing up, I am sure that I had heard of the Kentucky Derby, but I really don't remember knowing much about it.

When I met my husband, that changed. He is a big fan of horse racing and as such, being someplace (home works) to watch the Kentucky Derby is very important to him. I can remember when we lived in Pittsburgh going to Ladbroke's where they hosted a Kentucky Derby party. They even had official glasses available with Mint Juleps. I tried one the first year that we went and I must say that I was glad to learn the next year that you could get the glass with another beverage - the Mint Julep just wasn't my thing. I generally like mint, but to me it was just too strong.

My cousin and her husband briefly lived in Louisville and we had the opportunity on a visit to see them one year to actually visit Churchill Downs, the home of The Kentucky Derby. It was pretty neat to check out both the facility and the pictures/history around the Kentucky Derby. The fashion alone was an interesting aspect. As is noted on their party planning site, "The Kentucky Derby is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle so take note and don't hold back when planning your party hat (especially if you are the hostess!)."

During my travels last week, one of the dinner themes was The Kentucky Derby. The fashion was definitely interesting. Many of the women had a hat of some fashion and even some of the guys came in some rather unique clothes. The menu for the meal was all Kentucky inspired food. One of the sandwiches that we had was the Turkey Hot Brown. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors, and although not listed on The Kentucky Derby website, I think that we will be enjoying them for dinner on The Kentucky Derby day.

It is hard to believe that May is just a day away and that the 'Greatest Two Minutes in Sports' is already next weekend, so if you would like to try it too, here is the version of the recipe that I will make, there are several variations out there, so I chose my favorite aspects from each. There are recipes that use special bread, egg battered bread, toast or regular bread. There are versions that use cheddar, those that use Romano and those that use Parmesan. There are recipes that have you start by roasting a turkey breast and others that use deli meat. I even found that they are called Turkey Hot Browns, Louisville Hot Browns and Kentucky Hot Browns, depending on the version of the recipe. In the end, I chose the combination that I found to be most appealing to me and simple enough to prepare.

We aren't having a 'formal' party, but we have extended the invitation to some friends to come over for the event, and if they do, I will need to increase the recipe as I'm guessing that this version would serve four adults. If it's just us, I probably will make the same sauce, but will use less bread and less turkey/bacon.

Turkey Hot Browns

The Bread:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
8 slices of bread (I'm using a 'heartier' bread like Italian)
2 tbsp olive oil

Whisk together the eggs, milk and salt. Dip each slice of bread in the eggs for about 30 seconds to allow it to soak through. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the bread and cook to a golden brown on each side.

The Cheese Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 c milk
3/4 c sharp white cheddar, grated
1/4 c Pecorino Romano, grated
dash of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and the flour has cooked out, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in cheese and cook until melted. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste.

The Sandwich:
Bread from above
Cheese Sauce from above
Pecorino Romano for sprinkling
Tomato Slices (I'm using Roma Tomatoes)
Hormel Natural Choice Oven Roasted Deli Turkey
16 slices of Hormel Black Label Bacon, cooked until crispy

Preheat broiler.

Place bread on baking sheet. Top each piece with 2-3 slices of turkey. Add cheese sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese and paprika. Place under broiler and cook until bubbly and golden brown. Top with 2 slices of tomato and 2 slices of bacon.

Now, I just need to figure out what type of sides to have. I'm thinking that perhaps a salad and maybe some green beans.

How do you celebrate The Kentucky Derby?

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some of the information for this post.