It's a mint julep in a skillet! The pork chops are quickly cooked in a skillet, then drizzled with a bourbon-mint sauce. So simple, so satisfying, so summery!
And why now, when the Kentucky Derby is already a month past? Well, the Derby is such an experience, it's got me thinking about other "iconic American experiences". I've listed my ideas and would love to know yours, too, especially the ones from your own hometowns. Please do chime in!
“I’ll Have Another.” We’ll hear this name all week. And I’m paying special attention. You see, with “another” win at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, this horse would become only the 12th Triple Crown winner in 137 years – and at cocktail parties from now on, I’d be able nonchalantly namedrop, “Yeah, I saw I’ll Have Another’s first win. Y’know, at the Derby. In 2012.”
Yeah, me, I was there. Really. I WAS THERE, at the Derby. As the trip’s sponsor Pure Leaf put it, I won the “blogger lottery” that day. (See Disclosure.) I sure did. Have you been? Me, I’d never even thought about going.
WHAT an experience. The tradition. The gentility. The pageantry. The spectacle. The mint juleps. The hats, ladies, the hats!
The Derby sits high on the list of iconic American experiences. Ever since, the Derby has me making lists of other lifetime experiences.
City experiences like New Years in Times Square, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the 4th of July in Washington, DC.
Skyward experiences like the launch of the shuttle and the balloon fiesta in Albuquerque. A hot air balloon ride over snow country!
Experiences in wide open country. The sweep of sunflowers in South Dakota and bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country. The Medicine Wheel on top of the Big Horns in Wyoming. A dude ranch. The redwood forests of California. Loon-filled lakes in the Boundary Waters. The north shore of the Great Lakes. Weeping in the Badlands. Dodging spray at Niagara Falls.
Experiences of art and literature. A Broadway play. Crystal Bridges. Oxford, Mississippi. Tanglewood. Live jazz, live blues, live gospel, live barbershop. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Experiences of spectacle. Las Vegas. Hollywood. Disney World. Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Graceland. Branson. A luau.
Experiences of solemnity. The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Dealey Plaza. Vicksburg. The Alamo. A veteran’s burial in a military cemetery, surrounded by rows and rows of white crosses. A Civil War re-enactment. The Statue of Liberty. A naturalization ceremony.
Experiences of sport. Opening day. The Super Bowl. Tailgating before a college football game. Crewing a sailboat. A rodeo! Square dancing! The Indy 500 and NASCAR.
Experiences of the open road. Getting’ your kicks on Route 66. Highway 1 on the Pacific Coast. The Blue Ridge Parkway. The Great River Road. The Bourbon Trail. Amtrak cross-country. Supper at a busy highway truck stop.
Shopping experiences. Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive. The Mall of America.
Family experiences. A drive-in movie. A state fair. A neighborhood block party.
But you know, iconic experiences are close to home too.
In St. Louis, there’s our great modern architecture, the Gateway Arch. A moonlight boat ride on the Mississippi River. A tour of the Anheuser Bush Brewery. (Nine years I’ve lived here! No brewery tour.) Opening Day. The magical Circus Flora. The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival. Tubing on the Meramec. Chuck Berry in concert. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dogtown. Circus Flora. The new Lincoln Museum in Springfield.
For anyone who keeps a lifetime bucket list, the Derby deserves a spot. What iconic experiences are on your list? And what are the experiences from your own hometown, those I'd especially love to know. Who knows? Maybe you'll inspire some local tourism!
MINT JULEP PORK CHOPS
with SUGAR SNAP PEAS
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 2, easily multiplied
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 thick-cut bone-in pork chops
- Salt & pepper
MINT JULEP SAUCE
- 1/2 cup broth (beef, chicken, vegetable)
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 8 ounces sugar snap peas
- 2 sprigs fresh mint, the leaves bruised a bit to release the oil
COOK CHOPS In a large, heavy non-stick or well-seasoned skillet, heat butter and olive oil on medium heat. While the skillet heats, pat pork chops dry with paper towels, then rub with allspice, salt and pepper. Drop into skillet and let cook without moving for about 5 minutes. Turn over and finish cooking until all pink is gone from the center or the internal temperature registers 145F with a meat thermometer. Transfer to two warm plates and cover to rest.
COOK SUGAR SNAP PEAS While the meat cooks, combine the broth, bourbon, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Once the meat cooks, add it to hot skillet (careful, it will sizzle!), add sugar snap peas. Increase heat to medium high until mixture simmers, cover and let simmer until span peas are cooked but still bright green and slightly crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer sugar snap peas onto the plates.
REDUCE SAUCE Add mint to sauce, increase heat to high and boil hard, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and reduces by about half.
SERVE & SAVOR Drizzle pork chops and sugar snap peas with Mint Julep Sauce, serving extra sauce on the side.
While at the Kentucky Derby, I was thrilled to meet one of my long-time favorite bloggers, Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes. “Do you guys know each other?” we were asked again and again. Meeting Janelle in person exemplified something I learned during the early years of food blogging, when there were just a few of us and we all knew one another at least online: “... and when we meet, we’re already friends”.
Janelle’s posts show exactly what it's like to experience the Kentucky Derby, see Kentucky Oaks: fillies, lilies & frillies and Kentucky Derby 2012, great photos, great storytelling. Oh! I think you might like Janelle's Pure Leaf Tea Watermelon Cocktail too!
Janelle lives in Seattle and is mom to two teenage boys and wife to the handsome James. Their family story is fascinating. Imagine, just imagine! selling all you own and moving to Europe for a year, spending the summer bicycling in Holland, then the school year living in the heart of Florence, Italy, the kids in Italian schools. Now Janelle and her crew are back in the States, fixing up a "fixer upper" and turning it into an urban farm. (Oh and she's a Julia Roberts look-alike!)
This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2012
Rhubarb Chutney Fish with Herb Butter Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Tropical Salad Supper Chicken Greek Salad Ten-Minute Foolproof Red Chile Sauce Ten-Minute Enchiladas Cold Shrimp in Creamy Dill Sauce with Capers Easy Shrimp Bites
This Week, Elsewhere
~ Caleco's House Caesar Dressing from Caleco's Bar and Grill ~
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
~ Feta Stuffed Zucchini ~
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture
More Quick Supper Recipes for Summer
Shop Your Pantry First
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