Traditional Foods of Kentucky You Really Should Try

Kentucky is home to the most delicious and underrated savouries. Here is your guide to satisfy your grumbling stomach with the most delicious food in Kentucky.

Hot Brown

Hot Brown
Image credit: StyleBlueprint

Hot Brown is a creamy open-faced turkey sandwich. Sliced turkey is layered on toast and covered with Mornay sauce. It also consists of Roma tomato and bacon slices. It is extremely popular in restaurants and people do judge restaurants based on their Hot Browns.

Goetta

Goetta
Image credit: The Takeout

Goetta is a sausage or mush of meat and grain. Crisp-fried slices of goetta are a popular breakfast item. They are put in sandwiches and are also a part of “hangover cure” plates. It primarily consists of ground meat, steel-cut oats, and spices/seasonings.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken
Image credit: Kentucky Kernel

We all know KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken, but here, in Kentucky, fried chicken is available at fine-dining restaurants and it’s nothing like its fast-food version. Various restaurants have their own twists, serving the chicken along with mashed potatoes, gravy, and arugula. The chicken can even be served with ravioli. A popular fried chicken is buttermilk-brined chicken breast.

 Western Kentucky-Style Barbecue

 Western Kentucky-Style Barbecue
Image credit: The University Press of Kentucky

Every region seems to have its own style of barbecue, including western Kentucky. Chicken and pork are usual but mutton barbecue is extremely popular in Kentucky. The sauce is more vinegary and is thinner and tangier than the usual tomato-based sauce. Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, and other spices provide a nice kick to these dips.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs
Image credit: Delish

Deviled eggs are hard-boiled eggs that are shelled, cut in half, and filled with a paste made from the egg yolks mixed with other ingredients to enhance the flavour. In Kentucky, Kentucky smoked trout and fried capers are optional toppings as well. They are a loved dish here and a go-to for potlucks.

Spoonbread

Spoonbread
Image credit: Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Spoonbread is a moist cornmeal-based dish. Although the name suggests that it is bread, its consistency and taste are closer to that of savory puddings. It is also called a “heavy soufflé”. It is a fancier version of cornbread.

Benedictine Spread

Benedictine Spread
Image credit: The Spruce Eats

It is a light and refreshing spread. It consists of cucumbers, onions, and cream cheese. It can be spread onto bread and served as sandwiches or served as a dip for vegetables and crackers. The original recipe uses green food-colouring, but chefs now add spinach and/or green garlic as a healthier option. It can also be garnished with crumbled bacon or herbs.

Kentucky Burgoo

Kentucky Burgoo
Image credit: Mr. Food

It is a hearty meat stew. Kentucky burgoo is usually made with chicken, beef, and lamb. The meat is simmered with vegetables, beans, tomatoes, Worcestershire, sorghum or molasses, ketchup, vinegar, and spices. Burgoo can take up to four to six hours to make.

Soup Beans And Fried Corn Cakes

Soup Beans And Fried Corn Cakes
Image credit: Immaculate Bites

Pinto beans are slow-cooked and seasoned with smoked pork. Soup beans and cornbread originated when farmers and miners needed wholesome but affordable food. It is a very comforting meal and gives the closest sense to tradition and culture.

Beer Cheese

Beer Cheese
Image credit: VeryVera.com

This is a cheesy dip that tastes best with warm and soft pretzels. This cheesy goodness can be found in most bars, restaurants and even in groceries in its packaged form. A simple version of it consists of beer, cheddar, Worcestershire, mustard, and hot sauce.

Fried Catfish

Fried Catfish
Image credit: Coop Can Cook

Catfish fillets are lightly coated with breadcrumbs and fried until crispy brown. They can be served alongside mashed potatoes or vinegar slaw. Sweet red pepper relish is a common condiment served along with this dish as a dip although it is usually used to add to beans.

Country Ham Biscuits

Country Ham Biscuits
Image credit: Serious Eats

The country ham is salty, cured ham which is sliced thinly, fried, and then layered between buttery biscuits. Country ham themselves are a popular delicacy all on its own. Along with the biscuit, they make a great Southern snack.

Louisville style chili

Louisville style chili
Image credit: StyleBlueprint

Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville, is famous for its spicy chili. This chili is served over spaghetti. The meat used is usually beef, but pork, lamb, mutton or venison can be included in the recipe as well.

Chow-Chow

Chow-Chow
Image credit: Loveless Cafe

Chow-chow is a pickled relish. Chow-chow is preserved and served cold. Cabbage and onions are a dominant feature of this condiment. Hot peppers, green tomatoes, and other local vegetables can also be added before the whole thing is boiled in vinegar and then chilled.

Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie
Image credit: Saveur

Tomato pie is like an actual pie, like apple or blueberry, but a savoury version of it. It is filled with tomatoes and topped with mayonnaise or cheese. Some recipes include herbs and at times even various meats.

Salmon Patties

Salmon Patties
Image credit: Cooking Classy

Salmon patties are a regional favourite and the perfect comfort food. Salmon is blended with mayonnaise, onion, cornmeal, and flour. It is a simple, economical recipe. Traditionally, the patties are coated with crumbled crackers and given an egg-wash before being fried.

Rolled Oysters

Rolled Oysters
Image credit: NPR

Rolled oyster is a seafood dish that is found only in and around Louisville. It consists of raw oysters dipped in pasting (egg-milk cornmeal batter), rolled in breading until the size of a baseball, and then deep-fried. You can find rolled oysters in several restaurants even though it is a really old recipe.

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