Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon… How many ways can you skin this cat? If you’re an avid Cool Material reader, you know that we don’t even try to shy away from our love of the good stuff, and we don’t intend on starting any time soon. Don’t get us wrong, we certainly don’t discriminate—booze is booze, baby. But perfect world/deserted island scenarios, we’re bourbon guys all the way.
And what we love most about bourbon is that it’s good for so much more than just drinking. When our friends from Cooper’s Craft invited us down to Bourbon Country (AKA Louisville, Kentucky) to learn how to cook up some delicious bourbon-centric recipes, we only had one question: “When does our flight leave?” Then several follow-ups about transportation once we landed, how long we’d be there, dress code, accommodations if applicable, who we’d be meeting… Point is, we said yes.
When we got down there, we met up with professional chef, food scientist, and owner of La Belle Du Sud, Whitney Fontaine, who gave us top-shelf ideas for a few bourbon concoctions we’d never before seen. From Bloody Marys with a bourbon twist, to bourbon bacon jam, all the way down to cumin roasted pork butt, she has the recipes for some new boozy foods you’ll absolutely love.
Bourbon Bloody Marys
We’re big Bloody Mary people, but generally, we don’t ignore tradition, so we booze up with vodka. These bourbon bloodies were really quite delicious, and we made sure we “sampled” them a couple times, just to make sure they were good as we first thought.
Our main advice here is, don’t forget the Gochujang paste. As you probably know, the Bloody Mary is a spicy-ish cocktail, but this stuff adds a whole new level of heat to the equation. Chef Fontaine presented the recipe in a batch form that’s good for six servings, which is probably the best way to serve Bloody Marys, but it also meant we didn’t get the level of customization we’re used to. We love the paste, but if it was up to us, we’d probably cut the serving in half. Though, for those of you who like some heat, maybe double it. Recipes are mostly suggestions, after all.
She also uses pasteurized egg whites before rimming the glasses with Tajin seasoning and sugar, which we thought was absolutely brilliant.
- 6 cups tomato juice
- ¼ cup prepared horseradish
- 2 Tbs gochujang paste
- 3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tsp celery salt
- 1 ½ tsp white pepper
- 3 cups bourbon
- 2 Tbs Tajin Seasoning
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 2 oz pasteurized egg whites
- Garnishes of choice – caramelized bacon, olives, celery, lemons, limes
- Mix first six ingredients together and chill overnight.
- Mix the Tajin and sugar together in a shallow dish. Dip glass rims in egg whites and the tajin mixture. Set aside.
- When ready to serve, mix bourbon and bloody mary mix to preference and pour into glasses.
- Garnish and serve.
Oh, and she included her recipe for the delicious caramelized bacon she used as a garnish.
- 1 lb regular cut bacon
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper OR smoked paprika
- Lay bacon on a sheet tray lined with foil.
- Mix brown sugar and cayenne pepper or smoked paprika. Generously coat bacon with mixture, pressing into the bacon for even coverage.
- Place into cold oven, turn oven on, and set to 400 °F.
- Bake until sugar is caramelized and bacon is slightly crisp. Immediately remove to parchment or oil coated foil. The bacon will firm as it cools and should be sturdy enough to stand in a glass.
Bourbon Bacon Jam
Next up came the Bourbon Bacon Jam, which was served on Chef Fontaine’s homemade crostinis. These little hand foods are perfect as hors d’oeuvres at your next card game, cookout, beer bust, or whatever the hell else you get yourself into on a Saturday afternoon. Obviously not vegetarian friendly (sorry, plant eaters), the bacon pairs perfectly with the bourbon and brown sugar, and the apple cider vinegar and leeks give it a slight (but crucial) bite and texture. We also imagine this stuff goes damn good topped on a burger. Ugh!
- 8 oz bacon, diced
- 3 cups sliced leeks
- 3 Tbs bourbon
- 4 Tbs sugar
- 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- Render bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp. You want this to happen slowly (up to 30 min). Be patient with this step as it determines the final texture of your jam.
- Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel to drain. Quickly add leeks to the rendered fat. Slowly cook (don’t allow them to brown too quickly) for 15 minutes until they deepen in color and are very soft.
- Add bourbon, vinegar, and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves.
- Add bacon back to pan and cook on low to medium low for another 15-20 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. It should be thick and should not drip when spooned from the pan.
- Serve on a crostini, burgers, over brie, etc.
Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette
Vinaigrette isn’t our first choice for salad dressing. That distinction goes to caesar, then ranch, then blu cheese, though we have a special place in our hearts and arteries for the specific deliciousness of thousand island. But in the early summer, as it currently is, there are beach body considerations to be made. So, when Chef Fontaine tossed out this recipe for Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette, we figured the least we could do if we gotta eat healthy is do it with a little bourbon.
This was plated over some mixed greens, walnuts, cranberries, and some crumbled goat cheese. Trust us when we tell you that even for a salad, it was damn tasty.
- ¼ cup sorghum
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbs bourbon
- 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp shallot, grated
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Whisk together the first 7 ingredients until well blended.
- Slowly drizzle in oils, whisking continuously until fully incorporated.
- Adjust seasoning as desired.
Drunken Bourbon Stone Fruit
This isn’t a meal, but you’re going to need it to make the next meal that we ate. It’s one of those linchpin type meal accessories, because while roast pork is delicious, it’s more delicious with bourbon rehydrated fruits.
- ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
- ¼ cup dried plums, chopped
- ¼ cup dried cherries
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ¼ cup whole grain mustard
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- Mix all ingredients for the fruit in saucepan and set over medium heat.
- Cook until all fruit has rehydrated and liquid is syrupy
Cumin Roasted Pork Butt (With Drunken Bourbon Stone Fruit)
This one was by far the crowning jewel of our tasting session, and the best part is that it’s insanely easy to throw together. All in all, the Drunken Bourbon Stone Fruit was the most labor-intensive aspect of it and took about an hour or so to throw together. The roasted pork butt pulled apart nice and easy, and paired wonderfully with the fruit. We tossed it between to halves of a fresh long roll with some greens for texture, but you can do it any way you want. Hell, you could toss it in a bowl, stir it up and slurp it through a straw for all we care. So long as the thing gets eaten.
- 1 4-5lb bone-in pork butt
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- ¼ cup garlic, minced
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbs cumin
- Preheat oven to 425 °F.
- Mix olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. Using your hands, rub mixture over pork butt. Place pork, fat side up, on a foil-lined tray with a baking rack.
- Place pork in middle of oven and cook for 30 minutes.
- Lower temperature to 325 °F and roast for an additional 4 hours
- After removing pork from oven, let rest for 20-30 min before serving hot. To serve cold, wrap with foil and place slits in the top before refrigerating overnight.
Bourbon Peach Cobbler with Soft Shortbread Topping
To cap off the deliciously boozy cooking lesson, Chef Fontaine helped us prepare some of her Bourbon Peach Cobbler with Soft Shortbread Topping, and it was just as good as you’d imagine. The best part—aside from the bourbon, of course—is the shortbread topping, which is little more than salt, butter, sugar and heavy cream. The only thing that beats it might be the soy sauce caramel drizzle on top.
- 4 lbs Peaches, Sliced
- 6 Tbs Bourbon
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 2 Tbs Corn Starch
- 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
- 1 ½ cup Flour
- ½ cup Sugar
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 sticks Butter
- 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
- In a pan, add peaches, bourbon, sugar, corn starch and cinnamon. Cook until peaches are mostly heated through and corn starch thickens.
- Transfer to serving dish.
- In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.
- Add the butter and mix with hands or fork until combined and slightly crumbly.
- Add cream until dough begins to come together.
- Drop in spoonfulls over the peach mixture.
- Bake at 375 °F until brown and bubbly