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Classic Delights for Derby Day Celebrations

This article first appeared in the April/May 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

Words and Images by Lisa LaFontaine Bynum

You don’t have to hail from the Bluegrass State to know about the infamous annual horse race known as the Kentucky Derby. Dubbed the “greatest two minutes in sports” – a nod to the approximate amount of time it takes for the horses to complete their gallop around the track – the Kentucky Derby is known for so much more than just horses. Ostentatious ladies’ hats and sundresses, seersucker suits for men, signature cocktails and delicious food.

This year, place your bets on these Kentucky Derby themed recipes.

Old Fashioned Mint Julep Cocktail Ingredients:

  • 8 mint leaves

  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup

  • 2 1/2 oz. bourbon

  • Bitters (optional)


  1. In a Julep cup or rocks glass, lightly muddle the mint leaves.

  2. Add the bourbon and simple syrup, then pack the glass tightly with crushed ice.

  3. Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.

  4. Top with more crushed ice to form an ice dome, and garnish with a mint sprig and a few drops of bitters (optional).

Apricot And Bourbon Glazed Meatballs

Serves 4

Begin this delicious, classic dish by making the Apricot Bourbon Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ½ cup diced yellow onion

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1 cup apricot preserves

  • 1 cup chili sauce

  • ½ cup bourbon

  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard

For the glaze:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

  2. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is tender and translucent, about five minutes.

  3. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.

  4. Combine the remaining sauce ingredients. Add to the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set aside. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Next, make the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. ground chicken sausage

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Oil for frying

Directions for the meatballs:

  1. Form the chicken sausage into 2-inch meatballs.

  2. Roll the meatballs in the eggs. Then coat with the flour.

  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

  4. Working in batches if needed, add the meatballs to the hot oil and fry until the outside is golden brown and the meatballs are cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Drain the meatballs on paper towels.

  5. Coat the meatballs with the glaze.

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie


  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

  • 1 cup light corn syrup

  • 3 Tablespoons bourbon

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 9-inch pie shell, unbaked


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, melted butter, corn syrup, bourbon, brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk together until the sugar is dissolved.

  3. Evenly sprinkle the walnuts and chocolate chips into the unbaked pie shell.

  4. Pour the filling over the nuts and chocolate and bake for 50-60 minutes until the center of the pie is set. If the pie begins to brown too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil.

  5. Allow the pie to cool completely for several hours on a wire rack before serving.

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