A recent visit to the Bluegrass State revealed a group of chefs finding creative uses for “America’s Native Spirit.”
Downtown Louisville has a lively and interesting restaurant scene. Opened in 2003, Limestone Restaurant blends “new Southern cooking with old Southern charm.” At the helm is Chef Jim Gerhardt, who earned the AAA Five Diamond Award while at The Oakroom of Louisville’s Seelbach Hilton. He offers a Bourbon Smoked Rib Eye, along with salmon roasted on Bourbon barrel staves. Bourbon’s Bistro, another downtown gem, opened in 2005 in the historic Clifton area on Frankfort Avenue. It features a seasonally changing, “Bourbon-inspired menu,” and hosts monthly Bourbon dinners.
Sullivan University, the state’s largest private educational institution, is well known for their National Center for Hospitality Studies under the direction of Chef Albert Schmid. Schmid is the author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook and an authority on beer, wine and spirits. His curriculum focuses on Hospitality Management as well as Culinary Arts, and provides intensive training in food production.
On a national level, many well-known chefs have incorporated Bourbon into their dishes. Bobby Flay makes a New Mexican Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Ancho Sauce; Emeril has produced a Baked ham with Bourbon and Coke Marinade, as well as a Bourbon-Pecan Paté using pureed chicken livers; Paula Deen is noted for her Bourbon Beef Tenderloin and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops. All three chefs have made extensive use of the spirit in desserts.
Cooking with Bourbon imparts the spirit’s signature sweetness to meats and game fish, along with notes of caramel, vanilla and honey. You can make a quick marinade by adding brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic and your favorite spices; to prepare a glaze, throw in some molasses or jam and reduce for 20 to 30 minutes. It’s a noteworthy way to add flavor and depth to a dish, and is a charm when grilling during autumn and the cooler months.