The mint julep is always the star of the show at the Kentucky Derby in the drinks department. But when Ms. Jeannie’s own party plans got significantly waylaid this year, she decided instead of going all the traditional routes she was going to mix things up a bit. Instead of the mint julep, she created the Minty Donberry…
Which was a glass of chardonnay with a spring of mint and a slice of strawberry. Like a mini sangria, it was light and refreshing and looked pretty from the side…
Instead of traditional red roses, she went white and peach and purple in the flower department…
with bouquets of lilacs, snowballs, flowering dogwood and clematis.
And instead of a formal sit-down dinner following the race she went with a smattering of appetizers for a more informal cocktail party-like atmosphere. The favorite of the appetizers was a sausage and mint brown rice meatball accompanied by a cucumber mint raita sauce. It was a nice match with the Minty Donberry, easy to prepare ahead of time and made a lot. So even though there was no julep – mint was still a main attraction!
Here’s the recipe…
Sausage and Mint Brown Rice Meatballs with Minty Cucumber Raita Sauce…
For the Meatballs
1 lb. ground grass-fed organic sausage
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten (preferably free range organic!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Prepare brown rice ahead of time and let cool. Add all ingredients together in a bowl and mix until well-combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (up to one day – if you want to prepare ahead). All ingredients should look evenly dispersed throughout the mixture, like this…
Roll into 18 golf-ball sized meatballs or smaller if you want to make a miniature version. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Turn each meatball once and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the meatballs turn golden brown. This may require a little more or a little less cooking time depending on the size of your meatballs. Also, Ms. Jeannie broiled hers for the last couple of minutes to get a nice dark brown crust on each.
For the Minty Cucumber Raita…
1/2 large cucumber – peeled, seeds removed and then grated
1 cup sour cream
1/8 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon honey mustard ( Ms. Jeannie used Inglehoffer’s which is a German mustard)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place grated cucumbers in a paper towel and squeeze out all the extra liquid. Then combine all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Makes 2 cups of raita.
Arrange the meatballs on a platter alongside the raita. Ms. Jeannie served her sauce in her grandmother’s 1930’s teacup – which looked pretty! If you want to garnish the plate you can use (you guessed it) fresh mint or dill. But the meatballs don’t last long once out among the party crowd so you may not want to even bother!
Ms. Jeannie was rooting for longshot Wildcat Red…
and even though he didn’t win – it was still a great race! Now it is on to the Preakness to see if California Chrome will become a Triple Crown winner. Ms. Jeannie’s two best friends couldn’t make last night’s party so they’ve all decided to get together for round two on May 17th to watch the Preakness. It might just be a California themed event!