With March Madness behind us and May fast approaching what is on the minds of folks in the Bluegrass State? Derby Day, of course.
The Kentucky Derby is run the first Saturday in May and with spring blossoming across the state to dress the landscape in its Sunday best, it’s no wonder that many take pause to celebrate.
Like with most celebrations, there is no scarcity of recipes tradition has linked to the event. I have a collection of Kentucky cookbooks and most include recipes suggestions for Derby Day. These include variations on Kentucky Burgoo, Hot Browns, Country Ham with Biscuits, Cheese Grits, Mint Juleps and, of course, Bluegrass Pie, Thoroughbred Pie or other euphemistic desserts intended to produce a pie at least similar to the famous Kern's Kitchen Derby Pie.
A Taste of Kentucky Hospitality
All delicious, these recipes can easily seem like too much for a smaller take on Derby Day at my adopted home in the Pacific Northwest. Still, I crave at least a small reminder to mark the season even if I am not attending an official Derby celebration.
This recipe is just the thing for introducing a touch of Kentucky hospitality to any occasion. Clipped from a newspaper some years ago, this easy recipe can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container. Served as a snack these tasty nibbles offer an interesting mixture of sugar and spice that reflects the flavors of the region.Bourbon Spiced Pecans
3 ounces bourbon (6 Tablespoons)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound pecan halves (4 cups)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Simmer the bourbon in a small saucepan to reduce it by half, to 3 Tablespoons.
In a bowl, combine the warm bourbon, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and oil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Blanch the pecans in the boiling water for one minute. Drain the pecans. Add the hot pecans to the bourbon mixture and toss. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour any of the remaining bourbon mixture in the bowl over them.
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring the nuts every 10 minutes. When the nuts are lightly browned and the liquid has evaporated, remove the nuts from the oven and transfer them to a clean bowl.
Combine the cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and cumin, mixing well. Sprinkle this mixture over the nuts and toss.
Transfer the nuts to a clean nonstick baking sheet and allow them to cool and dry. Break up any clumps and store in an airtight container.