My Old Kentucky Home

 Chocolate pecan bourbon pie: Oh-so-southern, oh-so-delicious

Post- Magazine, Brown Daily Herald, 4/28/12 


Via Post- Magazine

For most of you readers out there, the first week in May means reading period, early exams from overeager professors, and sad hours spent cooped up in your library of choice, staring out wistfully at the sunny green. But for me, that first Saturday in May is a holiday, worthy of canceled classes, closed businesses, and a citywide party to be enjoyed by all.
I am a Louisvillian, a proud resident of the Derby City: home of Churchill Downs’ twin spires and the most famous horse race in America. For me, what the rest of the country condenses into “the fastest two minutes in sports” is in fact a month-long festival, complete with air shows, parades, and the largest annual fireworks display in North America. The Derby itself is preceded by the Kentucky Oaks, a race for the fillies on Friday that shuts down the entire city for an official holiday (yes, every year from ages 12 to 18, I got to miss school … for a horse race). And the fateful Saturday itself consists of not just one brief sprint around the track but an all-day marathon of races and fun, with the social strata ranging from the definitively classy (Millionaire’s Row) to the slightly trashy (the infield). Substitute concerts for the horse races, and you essentially have yourselves a municipal Spring Weekend.
In true Southern fashion (no pun intended), the hats are elaborate, the seersuckers are freshly pressed, and tanned shoulders peek out from beneath the straps of cheerily floral sundresses. Then, there’s the food—a recent infographic by Derby LLC reported that 800 pounds of bourbon balls and 1,892 sheets of Derby Pie are consumed during the festivities, along with 120,000 mint juleps and 7,800 liters of bourbon. That’s just the official count, never mind the thousands of house parties and private gatherings that sprout up all over the city, providing an outlet for those who want to get into the Derby spirit without the company of the nearly 200,000 spectators packed into Churchill Downs.
Hunter S. Thompson may have called the Kentucky Derby “decadent and depraved,” but for me the pageantry and spectacle are all part of what makes Louisville special, an underappreciated spot of sunshine in what yankees write off as the big homogeneous blob between the coasts. So when May rolls around and I sit in my Providence bedroom, enviously perusing the photos that take over my news feed as my friends head home for the weekend, I like to make myself a little slice of home: a delicious, decadent concoction known as Derby Pie.
Gooey and sweet, with a hint of bourbon cutting through the thick chocolate and oh-so-Southern pecans, it tastes like the call to the post, the glisten of the jockeys’ silks, and the gleeful camaraderie of an entire city decked out in its finest and dedicated to a good time. I don a requisite sundress, pull up ESPN, and join in with the crowd as we sing one song for my old Kentucky home, far, far away.
Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie (As of 1968, only Kern’s Kitchen is officially allowed to call it Derby Pie.)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cups light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon (IMPORTANT NOTE: There is no other kind.)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (Or, in my case, more like 1 ½ cups—I’m a firm believer in never skimping on the chocolate.)
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (I recommend Pillsbury, but if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can also make your own.)
Preheat oven to 375°.
In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter.
Add eggs, corn syrup, salt, bourbon, and vanilla.
Mix on low speed with mixer (or with moderate enthusiasm by hand) until blended.
Spread pecans and chocolate chips in bottom of the prepared pie shell.
Pour filling over nuts and chocolate chips.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until set.
Serve in the sunshine, washed down with an ice-cold mint julep.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s