Horse Bites: Benedictine

What’s not a tapas, not an appetizer, but sort of a finger-food served in Kentucky (or anywhere anyone celebrates Derby) on the days leading up to the First Saturday in May? It’s a Horse Bite!

This isn’t so much a recipe as a technique. You’ll need cucumber, pre-cooked bacon, radishes or alfalfa sprouts, and Benedictine cream cheese spread. If you live outside Kentucky you may not be able to find Benedictine. It was named after Jenny Benedict, and here’s a basic recipe. It’s to die for! My mother-in-law made hers from scratch, and her tip was to take your time and make sure all the liquid was gone from the cukes.

First, wash the cucumber and peel off half the skin in alternating stripes. You can cut this step in half by buying an English cucumber (the plastic-wrapped thin-skinned ones). Cut the cuke into about inch-and-a-half slices. Hollow out the seedy middle portion with a small scoop or a tomato/strawberry corer.

Next is bacon. Always the life of the party! I’m lazy, so I buy pre-cooked bacon and microwave it for thirty seconds, then pat dry. If you’re doing a huge number cooking raw bacon in the oven on a broiler pan may be your best bet. Just don’t get it too crispy. It needs to curve to fit a half-strip inside each cucumber chunk.

Fill the hollow with Benedictine. I used a small decorating tool from Pampered Chef, but you can do it any old way – you’re gonna put stuff on top anyway!

The Bacon Benedictine sandwiches I used to make had alfalfa sprouts. Those are hard to come by those days since they easily harbor e-coli. You can get the same little bite of flavor and crispness from thin-sliced radishes, though! And I do like the extra pop of color.

I’m going to be adding more Derby bites over the next week or so. I can hear military aircraft flying over the house as I write this. It’s Thunder Over Louisville this evening, so there are 800,000 people downtown watching the planes and waiting for the fireworks. The Blue Angels give me chills every. single. time.

My best/worst Thunder experience was being on a friend’s parents’ houseboat for Thunder. Aaron (my 26yo) was maybe four or so at the time. It was incredibly beautiful, and we were closer than any boats were ever allowed to go thereafter. Exiting speedboats caused such a number of wakes that our boat’s anchor lifted, and we were involved in a collision. Passing out life-vests and everything. It all worked out OK for the folks on our boat, but I think a speedboat did have two casualties that year. The land and water controls get stricter every year, and the crowds for every Derby event keep climbing. It’s a wonderful or awful time to be in Louisville. . . depending on what you’re doing!

Happy Derby Festival, Y’all!




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