With the growing emphasis on using local ingredients whenever possible in cooking, it is only natural that restaurant chefs would experiment with uses for Bourbon, a local product with a long and storied history in Kentucky. As Jess Inman, chef at Equus, said, “We might as well embrace what is around us.”
F&D invited Inman, Shawn Ward of Ward 426, and Dean Corbett of Equus and Corbett’s: An American Place to put together a party menu that highlighted the flavor potentials in cooking with Bourbon. And Tim and I added a rich Bourbon-enhanced dessert alongside a seasonal Maple Manhattan cocktail, which plays nicely with flavors born of the charred oak barrel.

Tim Laird shows off his sabering skills on a bottle of champagne for this issue's guest chefs. Left to right, Tim Laird, Shawn Ward, Lori Laird, Dean Corbett and Jess Inman.
Tim Laird shows off his sabering skills on a bottle of champagne for this issue’s guest chefs. From left: Tim Laird, Shawn Ward, Lori Laird, Dean Corbett and Jess Inman.

Bourbon’s complex layers of flavors complement many foods. What many do not know is that Bourbon possesses over 200 discernible flavor notes, which makes it far more complex than wine. Bourbon is delicious as a marinade, in addition to adding a depth of flavor to appetizers, sides, entrees and especially dessert.
The dish Jess Inman offers here can be found on the Equus menu. “I think the addition of Bourbon gives a hometown feel to these dishes,” Inman said. He likes the way Bourbon’s inherent sweetness intensifies when reduced by cooking, flavors reminiscent of honey. “The flavors really go with cornbread,” Inman said. “Bourbon and cornbread are best friends.”
Shawn Ward, too, sees an affinity between Bourbon and corn dishes. “If I am doing a dish that goes well with corn, I like to enhance it with Bourbon. I like to use it more as a seasoning than as a main ingredient,” Ward said. He, too, is taken by delicate flavors revealed in Kentucky’s native spirit when cooked. “Different Bourbons have different properties,” he explained. “Some are nice and smooth upon reduction; some continue to have a bit of heat.” Since high-proof Bourbons are not only costly, but potent, he shies away from them in cooking. Some popular sipping brands, such as Old Forester and Woodford Reserve, are also good ones to cook with, he said.

Dean Corbett
  • Corbett’s: An American Place

Rock Shrimp Jenkins

Rock shrimp Jenkins (Serves 4)

½  cup cold butter, devided
½  teaspoon minced, blanched garlic
1   small challot, peeled and minced
½  teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
¼  cup light brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
¼  cup white wine
¼  cup plus 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼  cup plus 2 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon
1   pound rock shrimp, peeled and deveined
½  cup chicken broth
1   tablespoon water
1   tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper
½  teaspoon Tabasco
1   teaspoon fresh chopped chives
In a hot sauté pan melt 4 tablespoons of cold butter while adding garlic, shallots, rosemary and brown sugar. Stir together until garlic and shallots are translucent. Deglaze pan with lemon juice and white wine and heat for about 20 seconds. Add Worcestershire sauce and Bourbon (reduce or flame the alcohol). Add rock shrimp and cook slowly over medium heat, turning shrimp frequently. Add chicken broth. Make a slurry by mixing together water and cornstarch. Add to stock gradually to thicken. Reduce heat and add remaining cold butter. Season to taste with Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Add chives.
Kentucky Bourbon-marinated pork tenderloin with sweet potato mash, fruit compote and sorghum Bourbon drizzle

Kentucky Bourbon-marinated pork tenderloin with sweet potato maple mash, fruit compote and sorghum Bourbon drizzle (Serves 4)

For the pork tenderloin
2   ½-pound pork tenderloins
1½   cups Bourbon marinade (recipe below)
For the Bourbon marinade:
¼   cup Woodford Reserve Bourbon
¼   cup maple syrup
Zest of two oranges
Juice of 2 oranges
2   tablespoons soy sauce
1   teaspoon garlic, blanched and minced
¼   cup light brown sugar
1   teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
1   tablespoon minced fresh shallot
Place Bourbon in small saucepan; bring to a simmer. Carefully ignite in pan to burn off alcohol. When flames subside, remove from heat and cool.
When cooled, stir in maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic,
shallot and orange zest. Place pork tenderloins in a large sealable plastic bag, add marinade and refrigerate at
least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
When ready to cook, drain pork, pat dry and season
well with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat 10 minutes
or so each side, to internal temperature of 138-140
degrees. Remove from heat and allow to rest.
For the sweet potato mash:
3   large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2   large shallots, peeled and minced
3   tablespoons brown sugar
1   stick butter
½   cup buttermilk
1   sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and minced
      Salt and pepper to taste
Cook sweet potatoes and shallots in water to cover until potatoes are very soft. Drain well and mash, adding in brown sugar, butter, buttermilk and minced rosemary.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
For the fruit compote:
3   peaches, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
8   large strawberries quartered
1   pint fresh blueberries
2   tablespoons honey
     Zest of 2 oranges
     Juice of 2 oranges
1   tablespoon brown sugar
¼   cup pineapple juice
2   tablespoons apple cider vinegar
15   leaves of fresh Kentucky mint, julienned
Combine all ingredients, adding mint in at the end. Compote will need at least an hour for flavors to marry and bloom.
For the Bourbon-sorghum reduction:
4   ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1¼   cup Bourbon Barrel Foods Sorghum
Heat Bourbon in a pan to a simmer, ignite to burn off alcohol. Let cool. Stir in sorghum. Add to squeeze bottle for garnishing finished dish later.
To serve:
Using spoon, spread small amount of sweet potato mash on plate. Thinly slice tenderloin and arrange overlapping on plate. Spoon a generous portion of fruit compote on top of pork. Drizzle Bourbon-sorghum mixture over pork.


Shawn Ward
  • Ward 426

Duck breast with collard greens and roasted peaches

Duck breast with collard greens and roasted peaches (Serves 4)

For the duck breast:
4   boneless duck breasts, skin on
2   tablespoons togarashi spice blend (Japanese seven spice)
Salt and pepper to taste
Score the skin on the duck in a criss-cross pattern. Liberally apply togarashi spice blend on meat side of breast and salt and pepper to taste. In cold, heavy-bottomed skillet place duck breasts skin side down. On the stovetop, heat pan to medium heat until skin gets crispy (about 6-7 minutes). Move to a preheated oven at 350 degrees and roast for about six minutes or until the duck reaches an internal temperature of 148-150 degrees. Remove from heat and allow to rest.
For the collard greens:
      Half pound bacon, diced
4   tablespoons butter
1   cup brown sugar
4   shallots
2   red bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced
1   cup Bourbon
2   quarts chicken stock
1   tablespoon crushed red pepper
2   pounds collard greens, picked over and washed
      Salt and pepper to taste
Render bacon in a large pot until crisp. Add butter and brown sugar. Once butter and sugar have dissolved, add shallots and red pepper. When shallots and red pepper soften, deglaze with Bourbon. Simmer until reduced by one-third. Add chicken stock and greens. Simmer 45 minutes and season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Taste greens for toughness and bitterness, and if necessary, continue simmering until collards are mellow, about 10 more minutes.
For the peaches:
Note: Use the peaches portion of the recipe below.
To serve:
Thinly slice duck breast on the vertical and arrange overlapping on plate. Spoon a generous portion of collard greens beside the duck. Top with roasted peaches.

Roasted peaches with Bourbon-pickled cherries

Roasted peaches with Bourbon-pickled cherries (Serves 4)

8   tablespoons sugar
8   ripe peaches, halved
2   cups olive oil, divided
1   cup vegetable oil, divided
6   cloves of garlic, peeled
2   bay leaves
2   sprigs thyme
2   basil leaves
1   rosemary sprig
     Zest from 1 lemon
½   cup marcona almonds
¼   cup white balsamic vinegar
½   pound of Bourbon-pickled Bing cherries (recipe below)
2   heirloom tomatoes, wedged
     Shaved ricotta salata or fresh mozzarella cheese
     Balsamic reduction (optional)
Toss peaches with sugar. In a saucepan combine 1 cup olive oil and 1 cup vegetable oil with garlic and heat until warm. Add 1 sprig rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and basil and remove from heat. Cover and let sit for an hour until flavors develop. Place fruits in baking dish and strain herb oil over. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a 225-degree oven for 35-45 minutes until fruits soften. Set aside. In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup oil with white balsamic vinegar and pour over tomatoes. Set aside.
For the Bourbon-pickled cherries:
1   pound Bing cherries
1½   cups red wine vinegar
½   cup water
1½   cups sugar
2   tablespoons kosher salt
2   strips orange peel
1   tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2   cinnamon sticks
1   tablespoon coriander seeds
1   bay leaf
2   tablespoons Bourbon
Pit cherries and place in a bowl. Mix the rest of ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer 10 minutes. Let cool. Place cherries in a quart jar and cover with pickling liquid.
To serve:
Arrange the peaches and tomatoes on plate, place almonds around plate, shave cheese on top, and garnish with cherries, reserved herb oil and balsamic reduction.

Jess Inman
  • Equus Restaurant

Bourbon flat iron steak with romesco and cornbread puree

Bourbon flat iron steak with romesco and cornbread purée      (Serves 4)

1   1-pound flat iron steak
1   cup Bourbon marinade
      (recipe below)
For the Bourbon marinade:
½   cup pineapple juice
¼   cup Old Forester 86 proof Bourbon
2   tablespoons brown sugar
      Pinch of ground ginger
1   tablespoon champagne vinegar
1   tablespoon roasted garlic
1   tablespoon minced shallot
1   bay leaf
      Zest of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange
3   black peppercorns
2   tablespoons soy sauce
Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl, whisk and pour into container or 2-quart plastic bag. Add steak and marinate at least 1 hour. Remove steak from marinade and pat dry. Grill or broil to desired doneness (flat iron steak is best if served on the rare side).
For the cornbread purée:
Note: For the cornbread, use your favorite recipe or see “Cooking
with Ron” on page 40 of this issue for his version.
2   cups cornbread, crumbled
1   cup milk
In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Crumble cornbread into the hot milk until texture is fairly thick and almost spongy. Remove from heat and carefully purée mixture in blender or food processor.
For the romesco sauce:
½   baguette cut into large dice (crouton size)
2   tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1   red bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
6   cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1   white onion, peeled and chopped
1   red onion, peeled and chopped
½   cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
       Salt to taste
       Pepper to taste
3   tablespoons butter
2   tablespoons chives, minced
1   lime, juiced
1   lemon, juiced
Toss diced baguette with ¼ cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in one layer on sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees 5-6 minutes, toss and turn.
Return to oven until golden brown, another 5 minutes or so. Set aside.
Toss chopped vegetables in remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. On sheet pan, roast at 450 degrees until charred and almost black. Check after 15 minutes. Toss vegetables and continue roasting until charred.
Add charred vegetables to food processor. Pulse to purée vegetables, gradually adding croutons until liquid is absorbed, leaving a rustic paste. Add butter, chives and juice of lemon and lime. Blend until incorporated.
To serve:
For each serving, spoon a scant half-cup of cornbread purée onto plate. Top with slices of grilled flank steak. Dress steak with the romesco sauce.

Tim and Lori Laird

Bourbon pecan fudge

Bourbon pecan fudge

20   ounces dark chocolate chips
1   14-ounce can sweetened, condensed milk
¼   cup Old Forester Bourbon
2   teaspoons vanilla
½   teaspoon salt
2   cups pecans, chopped, lightly toasted
Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with waxed paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side.
In a large, microwaveable bowl, add the chocolate chips. Heat on high for 90 seconds. Remove and stir well. Repeat for another 90 seconds and stir until fully melted. Add sweetened condensed milk, Bourbon, vanilla and salt. Stir until smooth. Add nuts and stir until fully incorporated, then pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm. Using waxed paper, lift fudge out of pan and turn onto a cutting board. Remove waxed paper and cut into 8 slices by
8 slices to make 64 one-inch squares. Wrap fudge in waxed paper and store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week.

Kentucky Maple Manhattan

Kentucky Maple Manhattan

In a mixing glass, filled 2/3 full with ice, add:
2   ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1   ounce sweet vermouth
1   teaspoon maple syrup
2   dashes Angostura bitters
Stir well, strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.  F&D