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5 weirdest foods of the Kentucky Derby

  • Watkins-Pickled-Walnuts.jpg

    The pickled walnut is a key ingredient in the Derby's classic and mysterious Henry Bain Sauce. (Watkins Pickled Walnuts)

  • Hot_Brown.jpg

    At the Kentucky Derby, the Hot Brown sandwich comes piled high with pimentos, bacon, tomatoes and, weirdest of all, canned peaches. (Wikimedia Commons)

  • soup-class-istock_000016017448medium1.jpg

    Some earlier versions of the Derby staple, "Burgoo," called for squirrel and opossums. (iStock)

  • artichokedip.gif

     (iStock)

  • pecans-istock.jpg

    Pecans can be found beside the racetrack in all kinds of forms, including rolled into Bourbon Balls, poured into pecan pies and dusted with spiced chili. (iStock)

On May 5th, the Churchill Downs racetrack will host the "the greatest two minutes in sports," the 138th Kentucky Derby. The Derby is America's original, extravagant springtime sports party and it's full of its own culinary customs. Before you start cooking up more traditional Derby-related eats like pecan pie and Bourbon Balls, have a look some weird cousins of classic Kentucky Derby cuisine, gathered by Yahoo.com.

Pickled Walnuts

The pickled walnut is a key ingredient in the classic and mysterious Henry Bain Sauce. The sweet-sour-spicy beef sauce was invented by the headwaiter at the Louisville Pendennis Country Club around 1881.

The sauce's strange list of ingredients can be a little off-putting, (chili sauce, Tabasco, pickled walnuts, ketchup, A-1 sauce, Major Grey's chutney) but it is a staple for any Derby party. Joy Perrine, Susan Reigler, and Pam Spaulding, authors of the "Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book," recommend pouring the concoction over a block of cream cheese and serving it with crackers.

Another Nut

It's almost a no-brainer that pecans are the darling of the Kentucky Derby.The nuts are everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, and the Kentucky Derby is no exception.

Pecans can be found beside the racetrack in all kinds of forms, including rolled into Bourbon Balls, poured into pecan pies and dusted with spiced chili.

While it may seem perfectly normal for there to be a pecan and Kentucky Derby relationship, reviewing cookbooks like "The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook" by Albert Schmid and Dean Fearin, show that pecans make the crossover from normal nut to a full-on obsession. Maybe it's because pecans serve as the perfect pairing for the Derby's favorite drink -- bourbon.  

Mushy Kentucky Derby Stew

If you've never been to Churchill Downs, don't be alarmed if someone stops you to tell you where to get the best "Burgoo." The weird three meat and vegetable stew is one of the oldest food traditions in the state. 

The dish is slow-cooked in large batches and has a history of containing some pretty weird ingredients. Some earlier versions "Burgoo" or "Brunswick Stew" called for squirrel, opossums, and about any other forest dweller that walked or flew.  Today, the most common meats used in "Burgoo" are beef, lamb, pork, and poultry.  

Click here for a recipe for Burgoo.

Funny green Kentucky Derby sandwich spread

Foamy green Benedictine is a sandwich spread made with mayonnaise, cream cheese and cucumber, and colored with green food coloring, parsley, or spinach. The spread was first created in the late 1800's by a Louisville caterer named Jennie C. Benedict. Although this recipe can look strange and moldy to outsiders, it is staple of the Kentucky Derby. 

Click here to see our recipe for Benedictine.

Strange Kentucky Derby sandwich gets stranger

The Hot Brown is the original sandwich of the Kentucky Derby. The open faced ham and turkey sandwich was named after the Brown Hotel where it was invented by Fred Schmidt in 1929. 

While the general appearance of this sandwich is strange enough, the Derby's traditional additions to the sandwich are downright bizarre. At the Kentucky Derby, the Hot Brown comes piled high with pimentos, bacon, tomatoes and, weirdest of all, canned peaches.