Make your Derby something to remember

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In my house, the Kentucky Derby is a big event.

I have no idea why.

There are 525,600 minutes in an entire year and I spend about three of those devoted to horse racing. There’s just something about the Kentucky Derby that I cannot miss.

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If you’re there, the event is as much about the ladies’ hats as it is the racing.

I’ve never been, so I have to watch the hats from afar.

I’m not a hat wearing kind of gal so in my home, the Kentucky Derby is about the food.

Derby Pie. Kentucky Hot Browns. Mint Juleps. The list goes on.

If you’re not into horse racing – or big hats – there’s plenty of great food to make your Derby experience something to remember Saturday.

There are several traditional Derby dishes, but one of the staples are cheddar grits. They are absolutely fantastic.

To try this dish you’ll need:

1 cup grated, sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup raw grits

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

4 ounces butter

4 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 2 quart souffle dish well. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese around the sides and bottom of the dish.

Cook the grits in the milk with the salt until done. Add the black pepper, cayenne, butter, cheese and egg yolks to the grits. Stir well and let cool. Whip the egg whites until stiff and carefully fold into the grits mixture. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

No Derby celebration would be complete without a Mint Julep, so grab a bottle of good Kentucky bourbon (we’re a Maker’s Mark household) and pour yourself an easy-sipping and refreshing drink.

You’ll need:

4 fresh mint sprigs

2.5 ounces bourbon whiskey

1 tsp powdered sugar

2 tsp water

Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar and water in a Collins glass. Fill the glass with shaved or crushed ice and add bourbon. Top with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig. This drink is traditionally served with a straw.

If you’re like me and not a whiskey drinker, or you want a festive Derby drink for the kids, a mint tea punch is a good choice.

You’ll need:

3 cups water, boiling

5 cups cold water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup orange juice

quarter cup lemon juice

12 sprigs fresh mint

4 tea bags

orange and lemon slices for garnish, optional

Put mint sprigs and tea bags in large pitcher and pour boiling water over them. Let it steep for 8 minutes. Remove tea bags and mint sprigs and discard. Slowly stir in sugar, making sure it completely dissolves. Once all crystals are removed, pour in orange and lemon juice followed by the cold water. Serve in tall glasses over crushed ice. Garnish with orange and lemon slices if desired.

Tiffany Cannon is a field editor for Taste of Home Magazine and owner of 2ate9 Bakery and Catering in Demopolis. She can be reached via email at