While bourbon is unquestionably Kentucky's most famous culinary creation, the Bluegrass state is home to a number of other delicious things that the rest of the country is just starting to discover. Of all the people bringing Kentucky ingredients to the national stage, it's chef Edward Lee of Louisville's 610 Magnolia and MilkWood whose influence is most strongly felt. Here are four of his favorite foods that he only learned about after moving to Kentucky.
This Lousiville specialty is often dyed green, which prevented chef Lee from trying it for years. “It’s basically just cream cheese and cucumbers, which sounds gross, but I think of it kind of like a cucumber sandwich,” he says. “The dip itself can be very refreshing and kind of cooling. Once you get past the initial hesitation, it’s actually really pleasant.”
“We use country ham so many different ways in our restaurants, but the easiest and most basic way is to just shave it thin like you would prosciutto,” he says. “When you have a product like country ham that is so perfect, you really try to not mess around with it too much. We don’t cook it, fry it or bake it, we just serve the ham as is and I think the flavor is vastly superior to prosciutto or serrano."
“I remember driving on the highway and we stopped at this farmer’s cart and he was selling sorghum,” says Lee. “I tasted it and was just blown away by the flavor, texture and intensity. To me, sorghum is somewhere between honey and molasses in its color, texture and viscosity. I bought out his entire stock, took it back to the restaurant and threw out all the Provençal honey we had. I decided that from then on, we were using Kentucky sorghum instead."
Henry Bain Sauce
“Henry Bain sauce is kind of like a Worcestershire sauce meets a chutney," explains Lee. "Its got all of the umami and fermented notes of Worcestershire, but it also has a bunch of dried fruit in their, like raisins, prunes, and some might even use dried pineapple. When done right, it’s really delicious and can be used on just about anything."