The first (and only) time I tried it, I was sprawled across a bed at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. It was late at night and I was clothed in nothing but a fluffy hotel robe. I felt guilt – even a bit of shame – over what I was doing. I intended to save it, save it until I arrived home, save it to share with my loved ones. Yet, there it was between my knees, uncovered, my sticky fingers bringing bits of it to my lips, morsel by morsel, nibble by nibble, the sheets smeared with the evidence – Derby Pie.
I tried to defend my actions – I was starving, room service hours had ended, it has been a taxing day, I couldn’t bring it home on the plane – but nothing, absolutely nothing, could justify eating an entire pie straight from the tin.
I’ve visited Louisville three times in my life and two things about the destination stick in my mind – watching the Kentucky Derby from a private suite (a high point) – and eating nearly an entire Derby Pie while lying in bed (most certainly a shameful low).
This weekend, 20 thoroughbreds will get the once in a lifetime opportunity to run in the 144th Kentucky Derby and, in tribute, I decided to try my hand at my own version of Derby Pie. But this one, I promise, I’ll share.
I’m calling my version “Better than Derby Pie” because the Kern’s Kitchen people, who make the trademarked version of Derby Pie, are a litigious bunch (those bastards).
This pie reminds me of a chewy chocolate chip cookie with walnuts inside a pastry crust.
- 1 9″ unbaked pie shell (refrigerator or from scratch)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup Karo syrup
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups toasted walnut pieces
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350⁰. In a medium bowl, beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, Karo syrup, eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt until frothy. Stir in the flour. Stir in walnut pieces and chocolate chips.
- Fill pie crust with filling, ensuring that nuts and chips and spread evenly throughout pie. Bake 45-50 minutes until the topping is firm and golden brown. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool.
The other night, my friend commented that I couldn’t #deletefacebook because of this blog – I’ll lose my followers. It made me realize that my friends don’t understand the details of this
passion hobby diversion of mine (and most likely don’t care). I take that as a good sign I’m not blathering on and on about “my blog” every second or every day. In truth, Facebook only accounts for 3% of traffic to my site. Surprisingly, my primary source in 2017 was the lesser-known Fridgg, making up about 25% of visits followed by various search engines with 13%, Foodgawker with 10% and my WordPress readers with 6%. I’m a devoted fan of Fridgg, a site that doesn’t determine what photos are worthy and unworthy based on some intangible – if the submitter believes them worthy, Fridgg does, too. Food photo democracy.
2018 is shaping up a bit differently. My primary source in 2018 has been search engines (15%), closely followed by Foodgawker (13%), with WordPress and Fridgg both at 10%. Facebook is still about 3%.
This brings me to another insight – My recent Foodgawker acceptance rates, THE site that determines if your photos are “worthy.” I think I’ve finally managed to crack their submission code. The first few years, my submission acceptance hovered around 30% – actually not too bad for the gold-standard of food photo sharing sites. Now, I’m at 45%, with February’s at 83% and March’s acceptance at 87%.
87%??! I’ll take that. I’m still undecided about Facebook.
Creamy Tomato Chicken Stew
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 ½ cups Gruyère cheese
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Cook chicken (in batches if needed) until brown on all sides. Set chicken aside. Add carrots, onions and garlic cloves to pot and sauté until soft and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste and cook until mixture forms a golden crust at the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes with juice and stock, scraping up the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan and breaking the tomatoes apart. Heat until boiling, then return chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan.
- Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about 25 minutes. Stir in cheese, cream and balsamic. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken and sauce over noodles, rice or polenta, sprinkled with a little more cheese, if desired.