Bourbon, that beloved housewarming gift and standard resident of many a Southern home bar, is always a good answer to the question “What are you drinking?” But with its bold, spicy flavor and notes of caramel, bourbon can also be a delicious addition to what you’re eating. Plus, again, it’s bourbon. Even if kitchen work wasn’t fun, it can only be made better by adding that special barrel-aged sauce you’ve been hiding away.
Here are five delicious ways to put the Kentucky Derby’s favorite spirit to work in your kitchen.
Makes 6 servings
Chili may not be the first thing people think of when they hear the word bourbon, but maybe it should be, as the dark liquor’s flavor is strong enough to stand out even in a hearty mix of beans, beef, peppers and spices. This bourbon chili recipe calls for a generous amount of bourbon. Since you’ll be reducing it down, don’t reach for your top-shelf liquor, but do choose a full-bodied variety with a nice burn. (Evan Williams or George Dickel work nicely.) By adding a splash of bourbon to the beef while it browns, then reducing the rest with the chili as it simmers, the end result is a rich, spicy chili infused with bourbon in every bite.
Double Chocolate Bourbon Brownies
Makes 9 brownies
Mark Twain said it best: “If I cannot drink bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go.” We’d like to slightly alter that statement to include chocolate, one more indulgence that Southerners can’t go without. And when chocolate meets bourbon in brownie form, it doesn’t get any better than that. These rich, fudgy bourbon brownies are topped with a light-as-air, chocolate, whipped cream frosting that also includes another splash of bourbon for good measure. To add a salty component and delight your bacon-loving friends, crumble a couple strips of crispy bacon over the frosting before serving.
Bourbon and Coke Baked Beans
Makes 10 servings
Most people know that a bourbon and Coke is a great drink choice for a summer barbecue, but fewer realize that the classic combination makes for a playful addition to a timeless barbecue side dish: baked beans. Two hours in the oven can turn a mixture of sweet Coca-Cola, bourbon, brown sugar, Tabasco, ketchup and mustard into a bubbling sauce full of tender beans. Serve Southern Kitchen’s cocktail-inspired twist on baked beans alongside burgers, hot dogs, coleslaw and a rousing game of cornhole.
Bourbon Lime Chicken Tacos
Makes 4 servings
Bourbon can provide a potent kick to marinade, and this recipe will liven up your chicken with rich flavors that blend superbly with sweet honey and fresh lime juice. By adding a memorable zest to simple street tacos — topped off with diced onion, cilantro and lime — this bourbon-based dish is sure to become a fast favorite.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, plus 4 lime wedges
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
In a medium bowl, combine bourbon, lime juice, honey, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts in a shallow baking pan and pour marinade over them. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Remove chicken from marinade, reserving liquid. In a lightly oiled skillet, cook chicken over medium heat for 10 minutes per side or until cooked through and golden brown. When chicken is nearly done, add leftover marinade to the skillet and let reduce while chicken finishes cooking, spooning liquid over the chicken as needed to coat it evenly.
Remove from pan and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch strips. Serve with tortillas, onions, lime wedges and cilantro.
Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel
Makes 8-10 servings
When times (or sweet-tooth cravings) call for comfort food, make this decadent bread pudding topped with tangy bourbon caramel. This recipe is versatile, working well with classic white bread, sourdough, baguette, batard, croissants, brioche or even leftover pound cake cut into cubes. The most important thing is to make sure that, whatever bread you use, it is at least a day old. Top this bourbon-spiked dessert with a dollop of cool whipped cream for a delightful treat.
Bread Pudding Ingredients
- 1 loaf (4 cups) of stale bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Bourbon Caramel Ingredients
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, vanilla, sugar and salt. Add the eggs and whisk until all ingredients are smooth and fully combined. Stir in chocolate chips. In a large bowl, mix cubed bread with wet mixture until coated completely. Let sit for 1 hour, stirring twice to ensure bread absorbs the moisture evenly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer bread to buttered baking dish, top with cubes of butter and bake for 1 hour (or until the top is slightly brown and firm to the touch).
In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and heat until it reaches a dark, golden brown color. Simultaneously, in a separate saucepan, combine heavy cream and salt over medium heat until warm but not simmering.
When the sugar and water mixture turns golden brown, slowly pour the warmed heavy cream mixture into it. Once bubbles subside, bring the caramel to a rapid boil while stirring constantly. When the sugar dissolves completely from the sides of the saucepan and the caramel has reached a thick, smooth consistency, remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl. Stir in bourbon to taste. Drizzle bourbon caramel over bread pudding and serve warm.