BY TOM YATES
Bardstown Kentucky becomes the center of the bourbon universe next week when the 2010 Kentucky Bourbon Festival gets under way. More bourbon related events, featuring all the major distilleries, happen in just a few short days during the Bourbon Festival than any other time of year.
Jim Beam Global sponsors the Culinary Art: Bourbon-Style Cooking School every year, and every year it is the first event to sell out. It’s popular and unusual because patrons pay for a five course meal prepared with Jim Beam Products. While they enjoy each course, a featured chef explains, cooks, and demonstrates how it is prepared.
It came with its challenges. The first year presented a huge learning curve. My Old Kentucky Home Park was gorgeous. The dining Hall and surrounding settings were lush, quiet, and beautiful. They had very limited kitchen facilities, which required us to build a mobile kitchen to prepare and serve a 5 course meal for 225 paying festival goers.
Cooking with bourbon is very much like cooking with wine. Understanding the nuances and properties of bourbon and how they enhance the way food tastes is the most important ingredient for a successful meal.
I pulled out the big guns for the entree: Beef Bourbon-gnon: Baker’s Bourbon Braised Certified Angus Beef Short Ribs. It was a classic example of using bourbon like wine when cooking. I prepared the beef short ribs as Boeuf Bourguignon, replacing the red wine with Baker’s Bourbon. After thoroughly browning the ribs with mire poix and tomato paste, I deglazed the pan with bourbon, covered it with beef stock, and braised it for hours until fork tender. The silky caramel qualities of the bourbon reduced and concentrated to form a bold rich sauce that clung to the tender moist ribs.
What will I miss most? Gathering my thoughts and nerves right before service while sitting under shaded trees listenening to church bells chime My Old Kentucky Home throughout the rolling grounds of My Old Kentucky Home State Park.
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