At the Table

Derby Day Menu from Jonathan Searle

By: Maggie Ward

Derby Day Snacks

The Kentucky Derby, the most exciting two minutes in sports, is regularly scheduled for the first Saturday in May. With that comes snacking and sippin’ your way through the spring day. Jonathan Searle, executive chef of Proof on Main at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville in Kentucky, shared tried-and-true recipes that get him to the finish line on derby days in the Bluegrass State.

“The Kentucky Derby is as much about sharing good food and drink with family and friends as it is about horse racing. These recipes are some of my favorite things to snack on with friends. They’re all easy to eat and serve. People can gather and tell stories as they smear large piles of pimento cheese onto saltine crackers. Munching between shared laughs around the table is what it’s all about,” Searle says.

Jonathan Searle’s Derby Day Menu

Chef Jonathan Searle touches up Southern favorites with a little Appalachian flair.

Chicken Liver Mousse

This light and airy mousse gets a sweet touch from the homemade sorghum gelee.

Pimento Cheese

“This recipe is all about the cheese,” Searle says. “Make sure to pick a high-quality, sharp cheddar. Also, roast your own fresh peppers. The canned peppers just don’t taste the same. Feel free to adjust the lemon juice, salt, and hot sauce to your liking.”

Red Pepper Jam

This recipe yields a generous amount of jam. Portion it into 4-ounce mason jars before it cools and sets, then send it home with your Derby party guests as a sweet favor.

World Famous Country Ham Salad 

Searle recommends using Broadbent ham in this recipe, but if you can’t find it, any semi-dry ham will work.

Woodford Herbed Mint Julep

The addition of ginger syrup in this recipe gives a warm, spiced note to the traditional mint julep.

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