One of the most famous calls in sports. The gates open and twenty or so three-year old thoroughbreds hit the dirt track in America’s oldest sporting event, the Kentucky Derby.
It is more than just a horse race or the kickoff to the Triple Crown. It is a week of festivities in Louisville, Kentucky culminating in the “Run for the Roses.” It is a tradition, the King’s Sport and as some say, “The fastest two-minutes in sports.”
Used to go down to the track back in my college days and party in the infield. Then it was the “Who could throw up the most in two-minutes.”
It began in 1875, when Aristidies won the inaugural race. I think that was the same year my great grandfather lost his first $2.00 quinella wager. Since then there have been winners and losers, Cinderella stories and heart-breaking also-rans. Horses like Winning Colors, a girl that beat the boys in 1988, the little guy, Smarty Jones who trampled over his big brothers in 2004, and of course, Secretariat, who won the Derby and the Triple Crown in 1973. Secretariat still holds the track record for the Derby.
Millions made and lost, legends born and names forgotten. Southern belles in wide brimmed spring hats, country gentleman wearing jackets, bolo ties, and a sunny Kentucky afternoon.
As I said, Derby Week is a party and along with the dresses and cowboy boots, food and drink are required. Let’s play a trifecta for the menu. Put a sawbuck down to win with the classic Derby beverage.
Kentucky Sweet Tea
3 Quarts water; give or take
2 cups sugar or equivalent amount substitute
4 Quart size tea bags
Bring water to a rolling boil, add sugar. (Stir to dissolve) Add 4 tea bags. Stir. Let sit 20 minutes. Pour up into gallon jug or container. Fill the rest with cool water. Garnish with lemon or fresh mint. Serve in silver julep cup.
Put a fin to place on this Kentucky tradition for the main course at your derby party. Here’s an inside tip.
Ginger Ale-Brown Sugar Smoked Ham
1-(8- to 9-lb.) smoked, ready-to-cook, bone-in ham
2 (12-oz.) bottles spicy ginger ale
1/2 cup Jim Beam
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
Preheat oven to 325°. Remove skin from ham, and trim fat to 1/4-inch thickness. Make shallow cuts in fat 1 inch apart in a diamond pattern. Place ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan; add ginger ale and bourbon to pan. Cover loosely with foil.
Bake, covered, at 325° for 4 to 4 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into ham registers 140°, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes.
Stir together brown sugar and next 4 ingredients. Remove ham from oven; uncover and sprinkle sugar mixture over ham, lightly pressing mixture into fat.
Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is browned and a meat thermometer registers 145°. Transfer ham to a cutting board, and let stand 15 minutes before carving.
Serve with Fig Chutney, Bleu Cheese and Cornbread
I like to handicap the ponies. Give me a racing form, a hot dog and a beer and I’m on the fast track to a losing horse. Losing tickets always leave a bad taste in my mouth, so sweeten it up with a two-dollar quinella with this famous Derby dessert.
½ Cup Melted Butter
1 Cup Sugar
½ Cup Flour
2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
2 Eggs, Beaten
2 Tbs. Kentucky Bourbon
½ Cup Chopped Pecans
½ Cup Chocolate Chips
1 9-inch Pie Shell
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour into pie shell and bake for 30 minutes.
“And down the stretch they come!”
Good luck everybody and check out the slide show.