Live in the D: Food ideas for your Kentucky Derby party

Chef Pete from Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace is here with ideas for your Kentucky Derby party.

The Story of the Hot Brown

In the 1920's, the Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. By the wee hours of the morning, guests would grow weary of dancing and make their way to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Sensing their desire for something more glamorous than traditional ham and eggs, Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. His unique dish? An open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown was born!

The Hot Brown—a Louisville tradition with worldwide appeal—has been featured in Southern Living, The Los Angeles Times, NBC's Today Show, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, Travel Channel's Man v. Food, and The Wall Street Journal, and is a regular entry in many of the world’s finest cookbooks.

The Legendary Hot Brown

Makes 2 Servings

1 ½ TBSP                Salted Butter

1 ½ TBSP                All-Purpose Flour

1 ½ Cups                 Heavy Cream

¼  Cup                     Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish

Pinch                       Ground Nutmeg

To Taste                  Salt and pepper

14 oz.                      Thick Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast

4 Slices                   Texas Toast (Crusts Trimmed)

4 slices                    Bacon, Cooked Crisp

2                              Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half

To Garnish              Paprika

To Garnish              Parsley, Chopped

  • In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux.
  • Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
  • Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino-Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  • For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 oz. turkey.
  • Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast.
  • Pour half of the sauce over the dish, completely covering it.
  • Sprinkle with additional cheese.
  • Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble.
  • Remove and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top.
  • Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.
  • Kentucky Burgoo

    Serves about 8 to 10

    Kentucky Burgoo is a very traditional hearty stew with a multi-meat combination and

    ¼ Cup                      Vegetable Oil

    2 Lbs                       Pork Butt, Cut Into 1” Pieces

    2 Lbs                       Beef Sirloin Butt, Cut into 1” Pieces

    2 Lbs                       Chicken Legs & Thighs, Boneless, Skin on, Cut in 2” Pieces

    1 Cup                       Green Bell Pepper, Diced ½”

    2 Cups                     Sweet Onion, Diced 1”

    1 Cup                       Carrots, Diced ½”

    1 Cup                       Celery, Diced ½”

    2 TBSP                    Garlic, Chopped

    1 Quart                    Chicken Broth

    1 Quart                    Beef Broth

    2 Cups                     Crushed Tomatoes

    3 Cups                     Red Skin Potatoes, Diced 1”

    2 Cups                     Fresh Corn Kernals

    2 Cups                     Lima Beans (Frozen or Cooked)

    1 Cup                       Okra, Cut in ½” Segments

    To Taste                  Salt and pepper

    1/3 Cup                    Worcestershire Sauce

  • In a large pot over medium high heat, add half of the vegetable oil and when hot, sear separately the pork, beef and chicken until brown, removing each from the pot when browned and then reserving.
  • Add the remaining half of the oil to the pot and sauté the onions, pepper and garlic until soft and lightly browned.
  • Add all the previously browned meats to the vegetables in the pot and then add both the broths, the crushed tomatoes, the okra and the red skin potatoes.
  • Simmer slowly until the potatoes are nearly tender then add the corn and lima beans.
  • Simmer 15 to 20 minutes and season with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
  • Cornbread and hot sauce hot sauce are typical accompaniments.

    Nino’s Pulled BBQ Pork

    Makes about 2 ½ Lbs or enough for 16 small sandwiches

    For Derby Day, in honor of Kentucky’s state beverage (BOURBON!), you can substitute ½ Cup of Bourbon in place of the water. Its make this recipe even more delicious!

    2 Lbs                       Pork Butt Boneless, cubed 1"

    1 Cup                       Vidalia Onion, peeled, small diced

    2 TBSP                    Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

    1 tsp                                Jalapeno, finely chopped

    1 TBSP                    Vegetable Oil

    1 ½ Cups                 BBQ Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's)

    ½ Cup                      Bourbon (Or Water)

    ½ TBSP                   Black Pepper, ground

    ¼ Cup                      BBQ Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's)

    ½ tsp                       Reese's Hickory Flavored Liquid Smoke


  • Pre-heat vegetable oil in large skillet.
  • Sear cubed pork, browning well on all sides. Remove browned pork and reserve.
  • Add onions, garlic and jalapenos to the skillet (with more oil if necessary) and sauté briefly.
  • Add the browned pork back to the sautéed onions mixture then add 1 1/2 cups Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce and the water (or Bourbon if you choose) to the pork and onion mixture.
  • Season with black pepper and stir to incorporate all ingredients.
  • Place in baking dish, cover well and braise for 2 hours in a 300 degree oven or until pork cubes are tender.
  • Remove the baking dish from the oven and while still warm, pull apart the pork with a fork leaving a few broken chunks of pork still remaining
  • Add Reese's Hickory Liquid Smoke to mixture and the additional 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce to the cooked pork mixture and place back into the oven an additional 20 minutes to heat the mixture through thoroughly.
  • Honey Mustard Style Cole Slaw

    Serves 6

    Another one of my delicious cole slaw recipes made from 1 package of Nino's Cole Slaw Mix. The honey roasted sesame sticks are a great addition to this slaw giving it a crunchy texture.

    1      pkg.         Nino's Cole Slaw Cabbage Mix

    1      cup          Nino's Spicy Honey Mustard Dressing

    1⁄2   cup          Carrots, Julienned

    1⁄4   cup          Green Onions, Sliced Finely on Bias

    1⁄3   cup          Golden Raisins

    1⁄2   cup          Honey Roasted Sesame Sticks


  • Mix all ingredients, toss and serve.

    Kentucky (Run for the Roses) Pie

    Makes 1 – 9” pie

    Made famous by Kentucky’s Melrose Inn is which trade marked and carefully guards the name “Derby Pie” for its own recipe, this version is “remarkably” similar. It’s THE traditional Kentucky dessert and often served with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

    ½ Cup              All-purpose Flour

    1Cup                Granulated Sugar

    2                      Extra Large Eggs, Beaten

    ½  Cup             Butter, Melted

    2 TBSP            Kentucky Bourbon

    1 Cup               Walnuts Pieces

    1 ¼  Cups        Semisweet Chocolate Chips

    1 tsp.               Pure Vanilla Extract

    Pinch               Kosher Salt

    1                      9” pie Shell (Unbaked)


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the eggs and butter, and mix to combine.
  • Stir in the bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt.
  • Pour the mixture into the unbaked piecrust.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set.
  • Set the pie on a wire rack and let cool before slicing.
  • Traditional Southern Corn Bread with Whole Corn

    Makes 1 - 9” x 13” casserole dish. Serves 8 persons.

    2 Cups             Yellow Cornmeal

    2 Cups             All-purpose Flour

    ½ Cup              Granulated Sugar

    ¼ Cup              Honey

    ½  tsp              Salt

    2 TBSP            Baking Powder

    2                      Extra Large Eggs

    1 Cup               Butter, Melted

    3 ½ Cups         Buttermilk

    1 Cup               Sweet Corn Kernels, Pulsed in Food Processor

  • In a large bowl mix together the corn meal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • Pulse the fresh corn in a food processor until you have a chunky puree.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, butter, honey, buttermilk and corn puree.
  • Add this liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended.
  • Prepare a 9” x 13” casserole dish and spray liberally with non-stick vegetable spray.
  • Pour the cornbread batter into the casserole dish and bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Serve warm.

    Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps

    Woodford Reserve is THE official Bourbon of The Kentucky Derby and The Mint Julip the traditional Derby Day cocktail.

    It’s a southern ritual crafted from bourbon, simple syrup and mint.

    2 oz.                Woodford Reserve Bourbon

    1/2 oz.             Simple Syrup

    3                      Fresh Mint Leaves

    As Needed      Crushed Ice

  • Bruise the mint with a muddler then and rub additional mint around the rim of the glass.
  • To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon, and crushed ice.
  • Stir.
  • Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.

    Kentucky Bourbon Balls

    Makes about 2 dozen balls

    Bourbon balls are more of a sweet confection than a dessert. Their Bourbon accented butter cream filling with pecans and chocolate are a southern favorite.

    1 – 16 oz Package          Powdered Sugar

    1/3 Cup                            Kentucky Bourbon

    ¼ Cup                              Salted Butter, Softened

    24                                    Pecan Halves (about 1 ¼ Cups)

    2 Cups                             Semi-Sweet Chocolate Coating

    2 TBSP                            Vegetable Oil

  • Stir together sugar, bourbon and softened butter. Refrigerate until firm
  • Shape the sugar/butter mixture into 1” size balls and place them on a waxed paper lined sheet pan.
  • Gently press a pecan half on top of each ball.
  • Melt chocolate and oil.
  • Dip balls into the chocolate (using a folk), then allow excess to drip off and place pecan side up on the waxed paper.
  • Chill 1 hour or until firm.
  • Mint Julep Gelées

    Makes about 18 cubes

    2 Envelopes            Unflavored Gelatin

    2 Cups                     Water

    ½ Cup                      Packed Mint Leaves

    ½ Cup                      Granulated Sugar

    1 Cup                       Kentucky Bourbon

    As desired               Garnishes:

                                            Fresh Mint Sprigs

                                            Coarse Sparkling Sugar

  • Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a medium saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes.
  • Add mint leaves and sugar.
  • Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, about 3 to 5 minutes or until just before it simmers.
  • Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes.
  • Remove and discard mint leaves.
  • Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9” x 5” loaf pan abd chill 4 to 5 hours or until firm
  • Turn out the gelee block and cut into squares approximately 1” to 1 ½”. Garnish with fresh mint sprig and coarse sugar.