Here in the bluegrass, at the start of May you cannot escape the Derby, and why would you want to? After last year’s historic Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, you better believe this year’s Derby will not disappoint. The history, the hats, the celebs, the galas, and of course the food are just a few of my favorite things about these two most exciting minutes in sports.
Derby themed parties are a snap. Take some unbridled spirit with perfectly loaded mint juleps, mini hot browns, Benedictine tea sandwiches, country ham biscuits, bourbon balls, and a chocolate pecan pie and you will be dining better than Millionaires Row.
This year I was feeling frisky and decided to take things up a notch with a reinvented salad based on the beloved flavors of the classic Benedictine. You still have the cucumbers with hints of dill and chive and a creamy vinaigrette, but they are combined with granny smith apples, roasted beets, lump crab meat, and bourbon. Now that’s a superfecta!
Enjoy and good luck at the races!
Bourbon Benedictine Salad with Roasted Golden Beets, Lump Crab, and Sliced Jalapeno
8 medium beets, preferably golden, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons minced chives
½ small green apple, such as Granny Smith, cut into very thin matchsticks (3/4 cup)
1 Persian or mini cucumber, very thinly sliced (¾ cup)
½ small jalapeño, seeded if desired, very thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh crab meat
¼ cup bourbon
½ pound butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle beets with oil; season with salt. Wrap in parchment lined foil and roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 1 hour. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then rub off the skins and cut into ¼ inch slices.
Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons bourbon, dill, honey, and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Toss apple with 3 tablespoons dressing. Arrange beets on a platter; top with apple and cucumber. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with jalapeño.
In a medium sauce pan melt the ½ pound of butter and clarify (removing the milk solids from the top) add the ¼ cup of bourbon, then soak the crab for a couple of minutes. Drain and top the salad while still warm. Allow the butter to drizzle over the beets and Benedictine slaw. Serve.