To try Jen's chocolate nut pie, a ubiquitous race-day sweet, click here for a recipe.
Today, the 136th Kentucky Derby takes place in Louisville, and whether or not you're a gambling man (or woman), the annual event is the perfect excuse to try Derby Pie: one of the sweetest, richest pies ever to come out of Kentucky.
Let me get one thing out of the way: I'm not the most qualified person to write about Derby food. I'm not into horse racing, D.C. is the farthest south I've ever lived, and I'm more likely to pick a mojito over a Mint Julep—the official Derby drink—any day. As if that wasn't enough, the only "derby" I've ever attended was the annual Chicken Derby that took place in my rural Canadian hometown of 2,000 people—not exactly a dramatic cultural event.
So how did this Northern-bred girl find out about nutty, gooey Derby Pie, which is nearly as dear in Kentucky as bluegrass and barbeque? As with all the best culinary discoveries, it happened in a roundabout way. Back in the fall of 2000—fresh off my second year of university—I decided to take a year off to volunteer abroad. At the time, I was waiting tables to put myself through school, and every September, our country restaurant hosted a Fall Fair on its large grounds. When the usual pie seller backed out of her post, my boss asked me if I'd like to sell pies at the fair as a fundraiser for my trip. The price of my series of flights to Europe, Africa, and back flashed before my eyes, and I accepted her offer.