I know very little about horses and even less about the sport of horse racing, but that never stopped me and my wife Bev from attending what used to be one of the biggest steeplechase races in Maryland – the Marlborough Hunt Races held in Davidsonville, outside of Annapolis.
At least, they called it a horse race. Judging, however, from the festive atmosphere – not to mention the volume and potency of the libations served up by tailgaters stretched as far as the eye could see – it frequently seemed as if the horses were merely a respectable excuse to throw a big outdoor party after a long and dreary winter.
If you’ve never been to one of these things, tailgaters at horse events are no different than any other: their competitive spirit shines. Secret family recipes are trotted out and prepared in bulk. Paper plates groan under the weight of acres of cornbread and mountains of slaw.
But it’s always been the classic race day pies that really sparked my interest.
Everyone has their own idea about what constitutes a proper race day pie. But the kind that’s usually associated with the running of the Kentucky Derby – indeed, with horse race events in general – typically contains a healthy slug of bourbon, an idea that’s hard to argue with once you’ve tried it.
They also incorporate chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and an unabashed quantity of melted butter. You don’t need a top crust because what you end up with is a pie that makes its own tender-crisp, cookie-like crust and sports a creamy-sweet center interrupted only by the crunch of pecans and chocolate chip bliss.
In short, a pie that’s way too good to serve only during horse race season. Try it, you’ll see. And chances are good you’ll be hooked into serving this one often, even when there’s not a horse in sight.
PASTRY NOTE: Once again, I like the GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH for this pie.