Get a Taste of the Kentucky Derby

Get a Taste of the Kentucky Derby

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.

Monday: Chicken with herbed goat cheese, sugar snap peas with sesame, mixed greens with strawberries, blue cheese and candied pecans

Tuesday: Flank steak pinwheels, grilled vegetable kabobs, caesar salad

Wednesday: Pork tenderloin with bourbon sauce, buttered green peas with mint, crispy potatoes 

Thursday: Kentucky hot browns, spring salad

Friday: Baby back ribs, blue cheese coleslaw, new potato salad

Derby Day: Country ham and biscuits, beef brisket barbecueroasted 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!

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Derby photo credit: Jeff Kubina

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  1. Katie says:


    My college roommate and I have a pact that some way, some how, we WILL go and watch the Derby together live one year. Complete with giant awesome hats.

    When I lived in Germany, one of my suitemates was from Louisville. I am from New Mexico. And Derby Day happened to fall on May 5–aka Cinco de Mayo. Our Cinco de Derby party, complete with authentic Louisvillean and Mexican food shipped from the States plus our attempts to recreate dishes (and drinks) using German ingredients…it is still one of my favorite memories, and very likely The Best Party Ever.

    • Anne says:

      Well, you and your college roommate can have a sofa to sleep on. Or maybe even a guest room if you wait a few years!

      I’ve seen you mention you lived in Germany before, but I don’t think I’ve ever told you about my German heritage, or that I was a German minor in college. Maybe one day we can have a stilted German conversation. (Or at least, it will be stilted on my end 🙂 )

      I love Cinco de Mayo, and this year Derby falls on May 5. We’re having a glorious culinary mash-up at my house!

      • Katie says:

        We were semi-planning on next year, but I’m not sure the Derby with a seven-month-old would be the best of times. ^_^* So we’ll give you a few years to get your guest room ready! ^_~

        Ausgezeichnet! I didn’t know that. At this point, unfortunately, our conversation would be stilted for me too, since I never use German anymore. Except that I only own The Chronicles of Narnia, the third Harry Potter book, and Pride & Prejudice in German, so if I want to read any of those I dust off the ol’ vocabulary. I majored in German and studied at Albert-Ludwigs Universitaet Freiburg in the Black Forest, which celebrated its 550-year jubilee while I was there. Because, you know, Germany had universities back in 1457 before the US had even been discovered. o_0

        Yay! Enjoy your Cinco de Derby par-tay. ^_^

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