Tag Archives: derby party

Horse Bites: Country Ham

This is one of the many treats you’ll always find at the buffet at Churchill Downs during Dawn at the Dawns. It’s a particular favorite of my husband’s.

Now Country Ham is one of those things that you love or hate. I love it in small doses, so a Horse Bite is perfect for me. A big slab on a plate would make me uncomfortable. I did actually cook one. Once. Michael was in hog heaven (pardon the pun).

Little PSA here. If your doctor has EVER said the words Congestive Heart Failure to you, or has said anything about your heart muscle being weak. . . PASS on the Country Ham or you’ll be explaining it to a grumpy ER nurse right before she inserts a catheter in someplace you don’t want it. #justsayin.

Now I think the perfect way to serve Country Ham is atop a slice of nice, crusty baguette. Ideally, I’d serve this warm with half a small baked or boiled red-skinned potato (or a purple fingerling if you’re lucky!) and half of a tender broiled asparagus stalk on top. Yes, this one takes a toothpick as well. You don’t want asparagus being ground into the carpet. And the salt from the ham will season both the potato and the asparagus, so just give them pepper, lemon, or garlic as you prefer. Actually, it’s just as good cold, so don’t stress about it.

Recipes for Benedictine, Thurby Pie, and Hot Brown Horse Bites are only a click away! Next up: Kids’ Derby Parties!

Horse Bites: Hot Brown

In addition to The Pie, Hot Browns are another must-have on Derby weekend. Many Hostesses serve them for brunch Derby Day. It’s essentially an open-faced turkey sandwich on toast with Mornay sauce topped with bacon and tomato slices. But everyone has their own touches!

Kentucky Hot Brown (four generous portions)

6 slices bread, toasted and sliced diagonally
12 oz. thick-sliced turkey breast (this is the best I’ve found so far)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
8 strips half-cooked or pre-cooked bacon
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups scalded milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter and whisk in flour (do not brown). Remove from heat and chill. (The longer you chill the better.)
2. Heat milk and broth (do not boil). Add hot mixture to chilled flour mixture, and whisk until thickened.
3. Add salt, pepper, and cheese until melted.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Assemble Hot Browns in a 9×13 pan in the following order: toast, turkey, sauce, and bacon.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly.

This also freezes well. BTW, this is super-easy and would be a great surprise to make Mom for Mother’s Day Brunch!

printable version

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t put the traditional tomato slices on top of the bacon before I cooked it. All my guys would have removed it immediately, so I didn’t bother.

There are two options for this one:

If you truly want to stick to all finger-foods then use slices of baguette or wedges of pita or flatbread and a thick-sliced turkey like this one:

If you’re having a large party go ahead and cook a turkey breast a day or two before. Top it with your favorite cheese – I love Swiss, but anything that’s not too crumbly will work fine. I used smoked Gouda for the ones pictures below and they got rave reviews! Microwave that bacon (after cutting the slices into thirds), and while that is being patted dry by your sous chef (spouse, child, helpful friend) slice some grape or cherry tomatoes in half. This one needs a toothpick to hold it together.


(Yes, there is one without tomato for the picky college kid!)

Another yummy option is to make the Mornay sauce just like the original Hot Brown recipe. Then make turkey sandwiches on toast and cut them into quarters, placing 1/2 slice of cooked bacon on each quarter. Spoon the sauce into shot glasses and slide a sandwich quarter into each. Float half a cherry tomato in it if you like. Serve hot! Yes, a bit more bother, but SO clever. You can even get personalized shot glasses from bridal retailers if you want to make them even more memorable. I’d prefer plastic myself, especially if there’s alcohol involved and carpet on the floor. Have I mentioned how much I love my hardwoods and tile?

Check a few posts back for my Benedictine and Thurby Pie Horse Bites! Country Ham and Mocktail posts coming soon!

Horse Bites: Thurby Pie

There is one must-have dessert you’ll find at every single Derby event: Derby Pie. The “official” Derby Pie (the name is actually copyrighted and they take it very seriously) is made in Louisville by Kern’s Bakery and shipped world-wide. It tastes nice. But my aunt’s recipe is easily twice as yummy! I’ve often been told I look just like her. If my hair starts to go gray should I just do a Marilyn Monroe platinum?? It looked great on Beverly!
I’m going to call it Thurby Pie since last year the Thursday of Derby Week became the official day for locals to go to Churchill Downs. It used to be Oaks Day (Friday), but the celebs gradually realized Oaks Day was just as much fun as Derby. So now they come in a day early, and locals end up on blankets in the infield standing in line for port-a-potties. #ICK!
So locals make a day of it on Thursday, starting with Dawn at the Downs (and I do mean dawn) eating a fabulous buffet breakfast and watching the Oaks and Derby horses work out. It’s fantastic! Spend some time at the Derby Museum until it’s time for the first race and you’re all set! Many local restaurants sell box lunches to take to the track, including Panera (my personal fave).

Thurby Pie Bites:

Use this recipe but bake the pie in a brownie pan or a mini-muffin pan. I used a brownie pan because I was afraid mini-muffins would be too dry, but I may try that next time – it would be much easier!

Either way, bake the pie and let it cool. If you want to prep things early it can cool overnight. If you’re using mini-muffin pans leave out the crust and place a Nilla Wafer flat-side-down in the bottom of each muffin pan and pour batter on top. It will probably take a little less time to cook, so check it frequently.

If you’ve selected the brownie pan method this is when you cut out circles. I just happened to have a cookie cutter the right size. Don’t stress if you don’t. Just place a Nilla Wafer on top and cut around it with a knife. Make sure your circles touch so you get as many Pie Bites as you can out of each batch. Twenty-four is my estimated count for one batch.
My aunt’s recipe is moist enough that leftover pieces can be combined to make more circles. Or you can just eat them. Someone has to taste-test them!
Top them with whipped cream with a bit of Bourbon added. Plain whipped cream is fine too if there are youngsters attending. Or if it’s warm and you’re partying outside leave the whipped cream off completely. If it melts it doesn’t look as appealing. These can be completed and stored in the fridge the day before. Two days before without the whipped cream. What’s not to love?!

If you missed the first Horse Bite (Benedictine) click here!

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