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Recipe of the week: Derby time: A twist on horse-country cuisine

Jess Jackson has two passions, said Lettie Teague in Food & Wine

Jess Jackson has two passions, said Lettie Teague in Food & Wine—wine and racehorses. “A billionaire a couple of times over,” Jackson and his family own more than 20 California wineries and a couple in Italy and France. Among his most well-known labels are Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve, Freemark Abbey, and Matanzas Creek. Four years ago Jackson purchased two thoroughbred breeding farms near Lexington, Ky., and rechristened them Stonestreet—his middle name and also the name of “one of his best wineries.” In anticipation of the Kentucky Derby, on May 3, Jackson recently hosted a dinner with friends that included such horse-country favorites as barbecued shrimp with cheese grits and toasted bread topped with melted cheese blended with beer.

Recipes of the weekBarbecued Shrimp With Cheese GritsAmber Huffman, the Jackson family’s private chef, combined leftovers of two Southern staples—barbecue and cheddar cheese grits—for a quick regional fusion meal. 2 tbsp unsalted butter1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch dice2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped1¼ cups ketchup¼ cup bourbon3 tbsp cider vinegar2 tbsp molasses2 tbsp honey2 tsp Tabasco1 tsp chopped thyme½ tsp cayenne pepperKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper1½ pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp1 tbsp vegetable oilCheese grits, for serving

In medium saucepan, melt butter. Add onion; cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in ketchup, bourbon, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, Tabasco, thyme, cayenne. Simmer over low heat, until thickened, about 40 minutes. Transfer barbecue sauce to blender; purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 cup into small bowl; reserve the rest.

Preheat grill pan. Season shrimp with salt and pepper; brush on both sides with 1/3 cup barbecue sauce. Grease grill pan with oil. Grill shrimp over moderate heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plate; serve with cheese grits and remaining barbecue sauce. Serves 6.

Kentucky Beer Cheese on Toast1 lb extra-sharp cheddar, cut into 1-inch cubes¾ cup dark beer2 garlic cloves, minced1 tbsp Dijon mustard½ tsp cayenneSaltToasted baguette slices from 2 baguettesSliced tomatoes

In food processor, combine cheddar with beer, garlic, mustard, cayenne; blend until smooth. Season beer cheese with salt. Preheat broiler. Spread toasts with beer cheese; arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Broil toasts 6 inches from heat for about 2 minutes, rotating pan, until cheese is bubbling and browned around edges. Top with tomato slices and serve. Serves 6.

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