The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the USA, and this Saturday marks the 137th Run for the Roses. They call it “the fastest two minutes in sports” for a reason–it doesn’t take a champion thoroughbred long to cover the one and a quarter mile distance.
But the Derby City knows how to make the most out of those two minutes. Two full weeks of festivities proceed the race–there are fireworks, hot air balloons, a (mini)marathon, the Great Steamboat race, Pegasus Parade, and a full week of racing at Churchill Downs. Guests flood into Louisville, Kentucky from all over the world, and the best hotels literally roll out red carpets for their guests. The excitement builds until it reaches a fever pitch for Derby Day itself. And Derby Day is about so much more than the horses–it’s about tradition, and fabulous hats, and parties, and food!
Classic Kentucky Derby fare offers the best of traditional springtime Kentucky cuisine. The farmers offer asparagus and strawberries, salad greens and mint. Everyone wants to serve Kentucky classics like barbecued brisket and country ham. We collectively revisit the annual question of the best way to make a mint julep. Our tables are heaped with fresh strawberries (perhaps chocolate-dipped?). And Derby pie is a must!
You don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy Derby fare–it’s classic food, done right–what’s not to love? (And while we’re talking Derby, why not watch the race? It’s just two minutes!)
If you want to join in the Derby festivities, here’s a menu plan to do just that.
Wednesday: Pork tenderloin with bourbon sauce, buttered green peas with mint, crispy potatoes
Thursday: Kentucky hot browns, spring salad
Derby Day: Country ham and biscuits, beef brisket barbecue, roasted asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, sugar snap peas with sesame, Derby cheese torte and crackers, benedictine sandwiches, strawberries, chocolate bourbon pecan pie
Sunday: leftover party food. Love it!
Thanks to Laura for hosting Menu Plan Monday!