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Friday, May 3, 2013

A new Twist on traditional Derby fare, Hot Brown Casserole, perfect for a race day luncheon

Come for Juleps and Stay for Lunch
Serve this traditional Derby fare, casserole style, with an Ice Cold Butter Lettuce Salad and Bourbon Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing
With my  friend, the great LeRoy Neiman, at a Derby party. When the journalist from "Horse Blood" asked me if I was a collector, I shall always remember Mr. Neiman laughed and before I could answer, he said, "She my dear, is a collector of many fine things."

The Derby selects an artist every year and one year , LeRoy Neiman was the honoree. He had painted many of the races,  the well-millinered couture designs, the horses, and of course the jockeys. I was his guests at a preview party at Churchill Downs as they unveiled his painting. The horses crossing the finishing line was monumental in size and was nothing less than breath-taking. 
In addition there was a collection of some of his other Derby paintings including the mighty Secretariat.
I especially loved his portrait of Hall of Farmer,Willie Shoemaker, who rode in more Derby's than any other jockey - 26 total. It measured less than 8 x 13, diminutive but powerful, just like "The Shoe."

Derby Hot Brown Casserole
8-10 slices of good bread, toasted and cut in bite-size pieces
12-ounces deli turkey breast, shaved fine
6-ounces cooked country or city ham, bite size pieces
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
10 slices thick bacon, baked crisp and crumbled
Bread Crumbs for Topping
Cheese Sauce
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1-1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese
2-1/4 cups milk
2-1/4 cups cream
4 tablespoons flour, depending on how thick you like your sauce
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Several dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

To make cheese sauce: Melt butter in a large saucepan and gradually stir in flour and cook until thick. Gradually add cream, milk, cheeses, remaining ingredients, and heat thoroughly – stirring frequently.

In large greased baking dish, layer toast, turkey, country ham, tomato slices, and crumbled bacon. Pour cheese sauce over everything, top with bread crumbs, sprinkle some paprika or on top and bake at 375 degrees until the sauce is bubbly – at least 20-30 minutes. (You may want to save some diced bacon and tomato to garnish your casserole.) This serves a lot of people!

NOTE: There may be sauce leftover, depending on what size baking dish you use. If so, use it over eggs on English muffins at a breakfast or brunch. Or serve it over broccoli at dinner, or as a hot dip with nachos.

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