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A Kentucky Derby Party Buffet

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Let it all ride on this easy-to-make menu of southern favorites, including ham, grits, biscuits, and of course, mint juleps.

For a party of twelve, you'll need to double the asparagus, grits, and shrimp cocktail recipes. The shopping list reflects the scaled-up amounts.

Whether you play the ponies or not, Derby day will be thrilling when you serve up this buffet of southern favorites: ham, grits, biscuits, and a traditional Derby Pie. And, of course, no Derby party is complete without a mint julep (or a few). This menu is mostly hands-off, but since most of the dishes are oven-roasted or baked, it’s a little easier if you have two ovens. Or make it a potluck and ask friends to bring the biscuits, pie, and grits.

Menu Timeline

One day ahead:

  • Make the cocktail sauce.
  • Make the mint syrup for juleps.
  • Make and bake the pie.
  • Make and bake the biscuits.

Five hours ahead:

  • Roast the shrimp and put in the fridge to chill.
  • Put the ham in the oven to bake.

Ninety minutes ahead:

  • Prep the cheese and bacon grits.
  • When the ham comes out of the oven, put the grits in.
  • Toss the asparagus with olive oil and spread onto the roasting pans.

As guests arrive:

  • Mix the mint juleps and serve them along with the shrimp cocktail.
  • When the grits come out of the oven, raise the temperature and roast the asparagus.
  • Slice the ham.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 4 lb. asparagus, preferably thin spears (about 4 bunches)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 fresh jalapeño
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 4 medium lemons
  • 2 bunches fresh mint
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1 smoked half-ham, preferably a bone-in butt half (8 to 9 lb.)
  • 3 lb. jumbo shrimp (16-20 count)
  • 12 strips bacon (about 12 oz.)
  • 10 oz. sharp or extra-sharp white Cheddar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Other Groceries

  • 3-3/4 cups bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
  • 2 cups hominy grits (not instant or quick), such as Quaker Old Fashioned
  • 1 pie crust for a single-crust pie
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 3/4 cup high-quality orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 3 Tbs. prepared horseradish

Pantry Staples

  • 16 oz. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • black peppercorns

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