Most of us have special recipes reserved just for the holidays, and Bluebird’s Executive Chef Dylan is no different. He reminisced over his family’s traditional recipes and shared new additions to his Christmas menu.
Growing up, Dylan’s family ate a traditional spiral-cut ham at the holidays. “I always asked my mom not to put the packaged glaze on it because it wasn’t good,” Dylan said. “After attending culinary school and working in the bourbon industry, I learned how to use the flavor of bourbon. I made a bourbon glaze for the ham, and we tried it one Christmas. My family has made it that way ever since!”
When Dylan was young, his family’s church had a potluck every Wednesday. His mom’s go-to dish was broccoli casserole. “It became a staple for the holidays, and now that’s the only time of year she makes it,” Dylan said.
The true show-stopper of Chef Dylan’s menu is these cookies that use a unique local ingredient. Sorghum is often confused with molasses, but they are quite different. Molasses is a byproduct of sugar cane production, whereas sorghum is made from the juice of the sorghum plant, a type of grass.
“Sorghum is unique to this area. The Mennonites in Casey County produce sorghum in the traditional fashion,” Dylan said. “An important part of Kentucky’s food culture is that we still have these traditional food practices happening in our region.”
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup sorghum (Chef Dylan uses Spring Valley Farms sorghum)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt recommended)
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground gloves
Sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until combined. Add the egg, extract and sorghum and mix thoroughly.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add gradually to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
- Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.
- Roll about 2 tbsp of dough into a ball and dust with white sugar. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cookies 1 to 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and allow them to cool on a baking rack for 5 minutes.
*Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt and Spring Valley Farms sorghum are available at Kentucky Soaps & Such!
While preparing these dishes with his family is an important part of the season, it’s the time spent together that makes Christmas Dylan’s favorite holiday. “I don’t have a lot of siblings or extended family close by, so Christmas has always been a very calm day,” he said. “I feel like I am racing around on other holidays, but Christmas is a peaceful time spent with my close family. And we always have an open door. There are only four of us, but we make enough food to feed 30 people. Our friends who are back in town know they can drop by to eat and see us.”
We wish you a Merry Christmas filled with peace, time with family, and (of course) good food!