Cookbook cover for THE BOURBON COUNTRY COOKBOOK: New Southern Entertaining: 95 Recipes and More from a Modern Kentucky Kitchen

THE BOURBON COUNTRY COOKBOOK: New Southern Entertaining: 95 Recipes and More from a Modern Kentucky Kitchen

David Danielson, Tim Laird

May 8, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1572842489

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From left: David Danielson, Lori Laird, Tim Laird

David Danielson is the executive chef at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Danielson has managed and catered numerous momentous events including the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl, the PGA Championship, and the Olympics, among others. He was featured in People for the food he served at the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

Tim Laird is an authority on wines and spirits with more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He is the chief entertaining officer of Brown-Forman, a major producer of fine wines and spirits (including Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, and Old Forester whiskeys and bourbons) based in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bourbon, the first uniquely American distilled spirit, is nearly synonymous with Kentucky, its birthplace. The state conjures images of lush bluegrass hills punctuated with white fences, rolling green pastures, cold bourbon cocktails sweating in the sun, and hundreds of well-dress racegoers urging their steeds of choice to the finish line—all of which embody the distinctive heritage of the American South.

But bourbon has come a long way since it was first distilled in the late 1700s, and its popularity has never been more widespread.

THE BOURBON COUNTRY COOKBOOK distills the spirit and hospitality —both new and old—of great Southern food and drink into 90 accessible recipes designed to help you achieve the ease and elegance of Bourbon country entertaining in your own home. Arranged by the kinds of fare you’d find on a traditional Kentucky table—pickles, ancient grains, bourbon cocktails, and more—these recipes pay homage to the rituals and victuals of yesteryear while embracing the new Southern palate and the flavors of modern Kentucky bourbon.

Derby Shrimp and Grits with Tasso Gravy

Makes: 6 servings

Lots of Southern shrimp and grits recipes call for the addition of bacon, but we like the aromatic smell and taste of Louisiana Tasso, a Creole ham that you’ll find as the foundation (along with the Holy Trinity of sautéed onions, peppers, and celery) of any respectable gumbo or jambalaya. This recipe is actually a riff on redeye gravy, an old Southern gravy using coffee and country ham. We serve these to thousands of guests each Derby at Churchill Downs.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup stone-ground white grits, such as Louismill (see Resources, page 202)
  • 8 ounces grated white cheddar (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper

Tasso Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ pound Tasso ham, diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

To make the shrimp, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the shrimp and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, just until they are pink. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.

To make the grits, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, milk, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Slowly add the grits, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently to prevent the grits from sticking, for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until smooth. Season with the white pepper and more salt as needed.

To make the gravy, in a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the Tasso ham and sauté until the ham is just browned. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is lightly browned. Whisk in the coffee, broth, and Tabasco and let simmer. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens and becomes smooth, about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper as needed.

To serve, place the grits on a large platter. Place the shrimp on top of the grits and ladle on the Tasso gravy. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes: 5 dozen


This. This is about to change your life. Or at least it’s going to change your mind about the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted. The saltiness of the bacon combined with the tannins of the chocolate creates an umami that’s unforgettable.

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅔–1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (see Note)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 ounces dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the bacon in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Pour the bacon grease from the baking sheet into a glass measuring cup and place it in the refrigerator to solidify, about 30 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a cutting board, cut into small dice, and set it aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

Once the bacon fat is solidified, add just enough of the unsalted butter to make 1 cup. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and bacon fat, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on low speed until combined. Add the bourbon, vanilla, and eggs and beat on low speed until thoroughly mixed. With the machine still running on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture until completely combined. Stir in the bacon and chocolate chips.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat this process (you can reuse the parchment) until you have used up all the dough. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Note: It’s important to use a total of 1 cup of fat in this recipe. The amount of fat rendered from the bacon will tell you how much butter you need to use. For example, if you have ¼ cup bacon fat, you’ll use ¾ cup unsalted butter to equal 1 cup. Generally, 1 pound of bacon renders ⅓ cup fat, in which case you’d add ⅔ cup butter to equal 1 cup total fat. However, all bacon is not the same in terms of thickness, size, fat content, or quality.


Reprinted with permission from The Bourbon Country Cookbook by David Danielson and Tim Laird, Agate Surrey, 2018.

Contact: Jacqueline Jarik
847.475.4457 ext. 4#