Tim Laird shares entertaining treats from “Bourbon Country Cookbook” to celebrate the Kentucky Derby

The first Saturday in May hosts “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” It is the Kentucky Derby! The Kentucky Derby is viewed by millions around the world and now is the focus of Derby-themed parties far beyond Louisville and Kentucky. It is also the perfect time to host a party as it is always on a Saturday and the kickoff to party season.  There has been a lull since the holidays and spring is blooming so in my book, that means it’s party time. Break out the roses, hats, juleps and more for an exciting Kentucky Derby party at home.


Old Forester 10-Second Mint Julep
Makes: 1 cocktail

3 ounces Old Forester Mint Julep
Mint sprigs, for garnish

Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice. Pour Old Forester Mint Julep over ice. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

Woodford Spire
Makes: 1 cocktail

The Woodford Spire is the newest Kentucky Derby drink tradition. A refreshing mix of Woodford Reserve bourbon, lemonade and cranberry juices, this cocktail is easy to pre-batch for parties and can be enjoyed throughout the year.
1 1/2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon
2 ounces lemonade
1 ounce cranberry juice
Crushed ice
Lemon twist, for garnish
Combine the bourbon, lemonade and cranberry juice in a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with the lemon twist and serve.

Giant Hot Brown
Makes: 8 servings

When you have a crowd hungry for a Kentucky Hot Brown, here’s what you do instead of composing individual plates. Serve this at your next dinner party or family gathering for a real taste of the Bluegrass State.

8 slices white bread, toasted
2 pounds roasted turkey breast, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
4 cups Mornay Sauce (recipe follows)
12 strips bacon, cooked but not crisp
4 whole tomatoes, cut in wedges

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cut the toasted bread in half diagonally and place half of the toast points in the bottom of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish. Arrange the turkey breast on top of the bread and cover with the Mornay sauce.

Arrange the bacon on top of the sauce in a crisscross pattern. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top starts to brown and the sides are bubbling. Remove from the oven and place the tomato wedges on top. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly cooked.

Remove from the oven and place the remaining toast points around the edges of the dish for garnish. Let cool slightly before serving.

Mornay Sauce
Makes: 4 Cups

1 stick unsalted butter
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
5 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (1¼ cups)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. While whisking, add the milk in a slow stream and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes as the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and add the Gruyère, whisking until melted. Whisk in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Serve immediately.

Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Henry Bain Sauce 
Makes: 8 servings

Henry Bain was one of the first employees of Louisville’s exclusive Pendennis Club, which was founded in 1881. According to the legend, his first job was to run the elevator, but he ended up as the headwaiter and established himself forever in Kentucky history with his signature namesake sauce. He created it to accompany steaks and wild game. The club eventually bottled and sold the sauce, and today it’s made, bottled, and distributed by Louisville’s Bourbon Barrel Foods. This is the official recipe created by Bain, and it is delicious alongside everything from roast turkey to grilled hamburgers. You can also pour it over cream cheese and serve it with crackers as an appetizer. This recipe makes a large amount, so put it in jars and give it as gifts to friends and family. It’s a wonderful little taste of Kentucky. Serve this recipe when you really want to impress.

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed of fat
1 pound sliced bacon
Henry Bain Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Sprinkle the herb mixture evenly over the tenderloin and rub it in with your fingers. On a clean work surface, place the bacon slices lengthwise side by side, overlapping them slightly. Use enough slices so the width of the bacon layer is about 2 inches shorter than the length of the tenderloin.

Place the tenderloin perpendicular to the bacon in the center of the slices. Fold the ends of the bacon over the tenderloin, then roll the tenderloin toward you so the ends of the bacon are on the bottom of the tenderloin. Stretch the bacon slices if necessary to fit around the tenderloin.

Heat a baking pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully place the meat, bacon-ends down, in the hot pan. Roast, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin registers 135°F for medium rare.

Remove the meat from the oven, cover it with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes. The temperature of the meat should rise to 145°F while it rests. Cut the meat into ½-inch-thick slices and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the Henry Bain Sauce on the side.

Henry Bain Sauce
Makes: 8 cups

1 (17-ounce) jar Major Grey’s Chutney
4½ ounces store-bought pickled walnuts (optional)
1 (14-ounce) bottle ketchup
1 (10-ounce) bottle steak sauce
1 (10-ounce) bottle Worcestershire sauce
1 (12-ounce) bottle tomato-based chili sauce
1 dash hot pepper sauce, or to taste

Mix the chutney, pickled walnuts, if using, ketchup, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, and hot pepper sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use or for up to 2 weeks. Serve at room temperature.

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