Not everyone can make it to the Kentucky Derby.
Joseph Doyle knows that. So as the executive chef of Churchill Downs, he's decided to share the recipe for the famous barbecue shrimp that have become as much a tradition for the first weekend in May as mint juleps and ornate hats. So how did this southern coastal dish become so popular at the Derby?
"It's a no-brainer," says chef Jo-Jo, as he's known. "Because it's delicious!"
Last year they began offering the shrimp over cheese grits and received rave reviews. So Doyle, now in his fourth year as executive chef there, has vowed to keep serving it that way as long as he's in charge.
Churchill Downs expects more than 300,000 visitors during the race weekend. It will take a staggering amount of food to feed them all, including 4,000 pounds of shrimp and 600 pounds of grits just for their signature dish.
"It takes a whole year of planning and a whole month goes into the food drop alone," Doyle says.
In addition to the shrimp and grits, the chef's team will prepare and serve hundreds of thousands of hot dogs and hamburgers. But that's just a fraction of the menu, which has a few new items Doyle created for the weekend. Two of the most unique are a collard green pesto made with pecans, and a sweet potato and dandelion salad.
"We take roasted sweet potatoes, add some roasted peanuts, toss with a sorghum vinaigrette and some dandelion greens," Doyle explains.
It all seems like a lot of work for the most exciting two minutes in sports, but Doyle says there is a full week of excitement surrounding the Derby, from the Thunder over Louisville fireworks display all the way to the Run for the Roses.
"It's so much more than two minutes. It's history. It's nostalgia," Doyle says. "And some really damn good food."
Churchill Downs Barbecue Shrimp Served Over Cheddar Grits
Churchill Downs Signature Barbecue Shrimp
Serves 10 people
• 2 pounds - jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail on
• 2 ounces - light olive oil
• 1 tablespoon - garlic
• ¼ pound - unsalted butter, cold and quartered
• 10 ounces - white wine
• 4 ounces - Louisiana Hot Sauce
• 3 ounces - Worcestershire Sauce
• Salt to taste
• 1 green onion, cut on the bias to garnish
Chef Jo-Jo's Notes: Add oil to a large sauté pan, on high heat. Add shrimp and cook until very light pink on one side, about 3 minutes, then turn. Add garlic to the pan and stir. Then add white wine and cook until wine has reduced by half. Stir in hot sauce and Worcestershire. Remove cooked shrimp from pan and arrange on serving dish. Continue to reduce the sauce for about one minute longer. Remove pan from heat and add the chunks of cold butter. Swirl butter until the sauce develops a velvety texture. Pour sauce over shrimp on plate and garnish with green onion.
Serve with Cheddar Cheese Grits and enjoy.
Cheddar Cheese Grits
Serves 10 people
• 2 cups - quick cooking grits
• 4 cups - water
• 1 teaspoon - salt
• ½ cup - heavy cream
• 1 cup - cheddar cheese
• ½ cup - Parmesan cheese
• ½ stick - butter
Chef Jo-Jo's Notes: Add grits and water to a 4 quart sauce pan. Bring water to boil and allow grits to thicken, stirring occasionally. Add salt, cream, cheddar, parmesan and butter and remove from heat. Stir until all of the cheese is melted.
-- Adam Watson is the food czar at ThePostGame. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamKWatson.
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