Off to the Races!

Here’s a fact in our house. If  “Secretariat” is on, we’re watching it. Or “Seabiscuit” or any other movie, documentary, and/or televised program that has anything to do with horse racing and the famed tri-series. This is due little to the fact that I work in a bar and any type of large sporting event draws a crowd, and more to the fact that my husband, John, is obsessed. Strangely, yet amusingly, obsessed with these races and the idea of the illustrious triple crown winners. So in honor of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, and John’s fascination, here’s a Foodetarian’s guide to horse racing with a culinary twist. On your mark, get set, cook!

US Triple Crown

US Triple Crown

The Kentucky Derby

The first, and possibly most well-known of the three races, the Kentucky Derby trots into Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville on the first Saturday of May. Known as the “Fastest” or “Most Exciting” two minutes of sports, it has been run every year since 1875. The build up and televised back stories set the stage for a great party!

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep and Derby Pecan Pie

For your glasses, the traditional Mint Julep is the Derby’s drink, but with such a strong and distinct flavor, I love the idea from a sweat eats website that adds blueberry or pineapple to the mix. Combine 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon (or ginger ale for my fellow expecting Mommie’s reading!), 1 ounce mint simple syrup (1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1 bunch of mint leaves heated in a saucepan to a boil, simmered for a minute, then remove mint and cool completely), and 1 ounce pureed pineapple or blueberry in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with a mint leaf.

For your plates, traditional Derby Pie mixes nuts and chocolate and very few calories 🙂 all in one crust. Here’s my version of a Derby Pecan Pie that is super easy for us non-bakers, and just as light 😉 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans over the bottom of a pre-made 9 inch pie crust. Thank you Pillsbury! You could probably throw some chocolate chips in too. I’ve never tried it but hey, why not! Mix 2 slightly beaten eggs, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 TBS molasses, 2 TBS melted butter, 2 TBS flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp of vanilla together and pour over your pecans. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the filling has set. Let cool and then get your hoofs dirty!

The Preakness Stakes

Held two weeks after the Derby, the second of the races takes place in Baltimore, Maryland at Pimlico Race Track. “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susan” refers to the blanket of blossoms that adorns the winner resembling the state flower. For a tasty Black Eyed Susan cocktail, mix 1 1/2 ounces of vodka, 1/2 ounce St. Germain (an elderflower flavored french liqueur), 2 ounces of pineapple juice, 1/4 ounce lime juice, and 3/4 ounce of orange juice. Pour over ice and serve with an orange slice. Again, just skip the liquors and replace with ginger ale for a mommie-friendly “mock”tail!

Maryland Crabcakes

Maryland Crab Cakes

In Maryland tradition, I’d suggest Crab Cakes as your tasty treat. Lightly saute 2 stalks chopped celery, 1/2 chopped red bell pepper, and 2 chopped scallions in a mix of half butter and half EVOO. Add 1 clove of chopped garlic and a sprinkle of Paul Pruddomes Blackened Redfish Magic seasoning. Let cool and then combine in a bowl with about 1 LB of  lump crab meat and enough whipped cream cheese (about 2TBS) to combine. Add in crushed Ritz Crackers (about 10 crackers, you want the mixture to hold together but still remain moist) and 1 beaten egg to combine. Shape into cakes and fry in a pan drizzled with EVOO over medium heat until golden brown and heated through. As an alternative, form mini cakes and serve on rolls with tartar and lemon as sliders or skip the Ritz and egg and stuff in mushroom caps. Bake in the over at 350 for cute “horse” d’oeuvres! You can also freeze the extra cakes with your handy-dandy Food Saver 🙂

The Belmont Stakes

The final race takes place in June at Belmont Park, in Elmont, New York. It holds the title of “The Test of the Champion” and is the longest of the US Triple Crown measuring in at 1 1/2 miles. It seems New Yorkers can’t make up their minds as the official drink of the Belmont has gone from the White Carnation to the Belmont Breeze to the current Belmont Jewel. The easiest of the three fruity concoctions, combine 1 1/2 ounces bourbon (or ginger ale 🙂 ), 2 ounces of lemonade, and 1 ounce pomegranate juice and shake vigorously. Pour over ice and garnish with a cherry or a lemon twist.

NY Strip with creamy "Horse"radish Sauce

NY Strip with creamy “Horse”radish Sauce

Since there doesn’t seem to be a traditional food for the Belmont, why not celebrate the warm weather race outdoors with a grilled NY Strip Steak with creamy ‘Horse’radish Sauce”? Keep your marinade light. A combo of EVOO, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and minced garlic for 30 minutes to 1 hour usually does the trick. Take your steak out of the cold fridge about 1 hour prior to grilling so you don’t shock the meat. Pat meat dry and place on your grill over medium to medium high heat. About 10 minutes for 1-1 1/2 inch steak will get you medium-rare. Don’t forget to use tongs and never a fork which pierces the meat and drys it out and let your steak stand after pulling it off the grill. You don’t want to lose all those savory juices!

For the sauce, combine 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 TBS prepared horseradish, and a splash or two of Worcestershire. Keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

I hope these Triple Crown recipes left you chomping at the bit and off and running to plan the perfect Preakness party this weekend! It’s a safe bet than any of these flavorful cocktails and traditional bites will win the hearts (and tummys!) of your guests. As always, I hope you enjoy, and may the best horse win!

Eat Well,

Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian

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