Classic Kentucky Recipes

Schmid Cover for blogWith the weather warming up, it’s almost time to bring out the grill and cook up some homemade barbecue. There’s nothing like getting a few friends together and fixing up an old family recipe, but if you’re looking for something new to spice up your table, look no further than Albert W. A. Schmid’s upcoming book, Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon: A Kentucky Culinary Trinity.

Burgoo, barbecue, and bourbon have long been recognized as the trinity of good taste in Kentucky. Drawing from past and present sources from across Kentucky, Schmid offers both new and forgotten versions of some favorite regional dishes while sharing the storied traditions that surround them. The following recipes are just a small taste of the culinary journey that Schmid has to offer:


If you don’t have a grill or simply want a faster way to make barbecue after a long day at work, this recipe for barbecue chicken can be cooked completely in the oven. This recipe is similar to one that was published the Franklinton Friends and Family cookbook by the Franklinton Baptist Church, located in Pleasureville in Henry County, Kentucky.

006Chicken Barbecue Sauce

1 whole chicken, fryer

1/2 cup margarine

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic salt

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Melt the margarine with the rest of the ingredients. Let the mixture come to a boil, then remove from heat and use it to baste a cut-up fryer . Place the chicken in a greased baking dish in the oven for 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the juices from around the chicken; add the rest of the sauce and baste often over the next 40 minutes.


Burgoo is a savory stew that traditionally includes meat—usually smoked—from at least one “bird of the air,” at least one “beast of the field,” and as many vegetables as the cook wants to add. There are many versions of various traditional recipes, but there are also new and delicious innovations when it comes to this Kentucky classic. The following dish is adapted from a recipe from Turf Catering, which ran the Keeneland concessions in 2006.

Kentucky Burgoo002

18–20 servings


3 pounds stew meat

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 teaspoon sage

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup carrot, diced

1 cup onion, diced

12-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

2 16-ounce cans mixed vegetables

7-ounce can tomato puree

2 pounds fresh okra, sliced

1 tablespoon beef base

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup sherry

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the stew meat with the herbs and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cornstarch, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 3 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste and thicken with cornstarch.



Of course, no Kentucky meal is complete without desert, so why not mix desert with Kentucky’s own signature bourbon? This recipe for Kentucky Whiskey Cake is based on Derbytown Winners Cookbook, which was published by the Crescent Hill Woman’s Club. The Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake was credited to Mrs. T. G. Stigall.

Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake015

15–20 servings

5 cups flour, sifted

1 pound sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 pound butter

6 eggs, separated and beaten

1 pint Kentucky bourbon

1 pound candied cherries, cut in pieces

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pound shelled pecans

1/2 pound golden raisins, halved, or 1/2 pound dates, chopped

Soak cherries and raisins in bourbon overnight.

Preheat oven to 250–275 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat well. To the butter and egg mixture, add the soaked fruit and the remaining liquid alternately with the flour. Reserve a small amount of flour for the nuts. Add the nutmeg and baking powder. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Add the lightly floured pecans last. Bake in a large greased tube pan that has been lined with 3 layers of greased brown paper. Bake for 3–4 hours. Watch baking time carefully.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Albert W. A. Schmid is the director of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, North Carolina, and is the former director of the Hotel-Restaurant Management and Hospitality Management Departments at Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of The Old Fashioned: An Essential Guide to the Original Whiskey Cocktail, The Manhattan Cocktail, the award-winning The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, and the award-winning The Beverage Manager’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits.

Purchase book here.


This entry was posted in Daily Notes on by .

About University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky has a dual mission—the publication of books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields for a largely academic audience and the publication of books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South, and Appalachia. The Press is the statewide mandated nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, operated as an agency of the University of Kentucky and serving all state institutions of higher learning, plus five private colleges and Kentucky's two major historical societies.

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