Recreating the Flavors of the Kentucky Derby at Home

April 27, 2016 4:54 pm Last Updated: April 27, 2016 6:27 pm

On the day that the most exciting two minutes of sports happen on May 7 at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, visitors will get the chance to enjoy Southern grown dishes with an international flair. 

David Danielson, the executive chef in charge of feeding more than 170,000 guests at the 142nd Kentucky Derby, is sourcing 300 crates of mint, 14,000 pounds of chicken, 9,400 sticks of butter, and 1,100 gallons of dressing for the historic day, among other ingredients. Though most ingredients are sourced locally, such as the Bourbon Smoky salt used in many of the Derby’s rubs and seasoning, ingredients are also sourced from around the world. The menu’s desserts, for example, feature chocolate from Switzerland, garnishes from France, and dairy products from Austria.

Those watching the Kentucky Derby at home can recreate the flavors straight from the Louisville racetrack. Below are recipes of some of the dishes that will be served at the derby, along with one for the Prospector’s Julep, one of the official cocktails by celebrity mixologist Charles Joly.

(Levy Restaurants)
(Levy Restaurants)

Butter Bean and Radish Salad


  • 1 pound butter beans shelled fresh or frozen butter beans (lima beans)
  • 1/2 pound radishes, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons lemon oil
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablesppons flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


Blanch beans in a pot of boiling water for 2–3 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cool. In a large mixing bowl mix beans and radishes. Add oil, lemon juice, and cumin. Combine until well mixed; add parsley and cilantro, season with salt and pepper.

(Levy Restaurants)
(Levy Restaurants)

Pan Roasted Chicken With Moonshine Raisin Sauce

Serves: 4

For the Pan Roasted Chicken:

  • Four 6–8-ounce chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Season the chicken with a generous amount of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Let those come up to room temperature while you preheat a pan over medium-medium high heat.

Check to make sure the pan is good and hot by adding a few drops of water, and they should instantly evaporate. Now add in a tablespoon of olive oil. You will have to cook these in 2 batches, start with 2 chicken breasts skin-side-down into the prepared pan. Let those cook for 6-8 minutes or so. Don’t try to scoot them around the pan or you may tear the skin. Carefully turn the breasts over and cook for 4 minutes.

Remove them to a clean plate and repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. Once all four chicken breasts are seared and crispy, place them all into the pan and slide into a preheated 350F oven to roast for a quick 15–20 minutes to finish cooking.

For the Moonshine Raisin Sauce:

  • 2 quarts homemade roasted chicken stock
  • 10 tablespoons moonshine
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


In a large heavy bottom saucepan, bring stock to a boil. Turn heat down to the lowest heat setting and allow to simmer for several hours until stock has reduced to 2 cups. Turn heat back to medium high and bring to a boil. 

In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons moonshine to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the reduced stock and bring the liquid back to a boil. Once the stock mixture boils turn heat to low and let simmer. 

In another small saucepan add 4 tablespoons moonshine to 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Once the liquid simmers add in the raisins. Cook raisins until plump and add this mixture to the thickened stock. Simmer for 5 minutes. It’s then ready to serve.

(Courtesy of Levy Restaurants)
(Courtesy of Levy Restaurants)

Blackberry Cobbler With Lemon-Rosemary Biscuit Topping

For the Blackberry Cobbler:

  • 1 pound fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water


In a medium-sized sauce pot combine water, sugar, and blackberries and cook until blackberries start to break down and syrup becomes sweet.

In a small bowl mix corn starch and water to make a slurry to thicken the cobbler filling. Add slurry to the blackberry mixture and cook until thickened. Place cobbler filling in a cast iron skillet.

For the Lemon-Rosemary Biscuit Topping:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of lemon zest and fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 3/4 cup chilled buttermilk


In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt.

Using your fingertips, rub butter, and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.)

Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky. Top your cobbler and bake until golden brown, usually 13–15 minutes.

(Recipes courtesy of David Danielson, executive chef, Churchill Downs)

(Levy Restaurants)
(Levy Restaurants)

Prospector’s Julep


  • 2 ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • 1/4 ounce Koval Ginger Liqueur
  • 3/4–1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2–3/4 ounce honey syrup
  • Mint leaves


Place 8–10 mint leaves into the base of a julep cup. Add honey and lemon, muddle gently to release oils.

Add ginger and Woodford. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with large bouquet of mint tops and skewered candied ginger.

Note: If you can’t use a ginger liqueur, you can make a ginger honey syrup or add juiced ginger to the mix. It’s a bit more prep, but executable.

(Recipe courtesy of Charles Joly, mixologist and co-founder, Crafthouse Cocktails)