A Kentucky Fall Meal

Chef Newman Miller, featured in the Fall 2021 issue of Bourbon+, created this sumptuous menu especially for Bourbon+ readers. Preparing the entire meal in one day is doable but a significant commitment for one person (or even two or three!). The good news is that each element can be prepared over two or three days. This meal serves 4 to 6 people.

Menu: Smoked and Braised Lamb Shanks with Smoked Apple Juice served with Savory Chicory and Country Ham Salad and Boulangerie Potatoes Au Gratin; Basque Cheesecake with a Sweet Tea Syrup and Owensboro Sour Cocktail

Smoked and Braised Lamb Shanks and Smoked Apple Juice

(1 day out for smoking)

  • 4-6 lamb shanks
  • Kosher salt, to season lamb shanks
  • 4 red apples, halved
  • 1 pound of whiskey barrel bungs or other dried wood
  • Lamb Braise, recipe following
  1. In a common home smoker, place seasoned lamb shanks on one side of the cooking area and halved apples on the other. Close off cooking area.
  2. Create cold smoke by adding bungs or other wood to the fire box. Using a propane torch, light wood, allow it to flame for 2 minutes, then blow out or smother flames. Resulting smoke should billow for about 20 minutes before relighting and extinguishing is required. The goal is to smoke apples and lamb for 90 minutes.
  3. Once smoked, move lamb to a medium-to-large baking dish that’s 4 inches deep. (If you don’t have one, two 4-inch-deep by 10 x 12-inch disposable aluminum pans stacked together will do fine.) If not serving the lamb that day, refrigerate until the next day.
  4. Remove apples from smoker and place in a juicer or blender and reduce to a pulp. Then, using a strainer and funnel, pour into a squeeze bottle or glass jar, and save for the Owensboro Sour Cocktail (recipe below).


For the Lamb Braise

(On finishing day)

  • 1 tablespoon Savory Spice Mixture, recipe following
  • 2 cans of ginger soda (preferably Ale-8)
  • 3 ounces bourbon (low proof is fine)
  • 6 ounces of your favorite bottled barbecue sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and blend all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Pour mixture over lamb in baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake 3 hours.
  3. Pour braising liquid into small pot, heat to simmering and reduce liquid to a slightly thickened sauce.
  4. Using a spoon, skim off fat as liquid reduces.
  5. Reserve sauce until the entire dish is ready to serve.


For the Multiuse Savory Spice Mixture

(2 days out)

  • ½ tablespoon ground cloves
  • ½ tablespoon ground allspice
  • ½ tablespoon ground nutmeg
  1. Mix all three spices together and set aside for later use.


To Serve:

If you are presenting this as the entire meal: In large single-serving bowls, place four Savory Chicory and Country Ham salads and garnish with onion rings. Cut four servings of hot Boulangerie Potatoes Au Gratin, and place beside the salads.

Place one lamb shank into each bowl and ladle enough sauce over top to wet lamb and leave sauce to blend with salad. Serve freshly shaken Owensboro Sour Cocktail with entrée.

Savory Chicory and Country Ham Salad

(On finishing day)

  • 1 kabocha squash, halved, baked, scooped from skin and diced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced to create 16 grilled rings
  • ½ pound fresh chicory
  • 4 ounces sliced cooked country ham
  • Grated zest from one lemon
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 6 ounces candied walnuts
  1. Halve and place kabocha squash in baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes. Once cool, scoop out of shell and cut into half-inch cubes.
  2. Grill or pan sear onion rings to soften and create caramelized, charred edges. Using a knife, shred and chop cooked country ham.
  3. Grate lemon peel and set aside. Cut lemon in half and squeeze 1 ounce lemon juice and set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, add chicory, squash, ham, lemon peel, and lemon juice and toss. Garnish with candied walnuts and onion rings and set aside.

Boulangerie Potatoes Gratin

(1-2 days out)

  • 16 ounces heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly on mandolin
  • 3 ounces finely grated parmesan or pecorino-Romano cheese to top for gratin
  1. Combine all ingredients (except grated cheese) in large bowl, toss and coat well.
  2. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, create a layer of sliced potatoes and onions, ladle on cream mixture just to cover, and repeat until all ingredients are used. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.
  3. When finished, remove dish from oven and preheat broiler. Remove foil and sprinkle grated cheese across the top of dish. Broil until cheese is golden brown. If you don’t have a broiler, a propane torch will do the trick.
  4. Note: If preparing this dish 1-2 days out, skip the final step until the finishing day. In the meantime, cool potatoes to room temperature and refrigerate until the finishing day. To reheat, place cold, foil covered potatoes into the oven during the final 45 minutes of lamb braising. Once hot, remove from oven, sprinkle on grated cheese and, using a propane torch, brown cheese.

Basque Cheesecake

(1 day out)

  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temp
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 2 ounces goat cheese chevre
  • 2 ounces Kenny’s Blue Cheese, finely shredded on the pointed side of hand grater
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 6 large eggs (farm-fresh eggs preferred)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 6 ounces dried prunes, for garnish
  • Sweet Tea Syrup, for garnish, recipe following
  1. In a stand mixer, blend all cheeses except blue on medium speed until mixture appears like softened butter (sticking to the sides of the bowl). Add sugar one-half cup at a time until fully incorporated. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl.
  2. Restart mixer at low speed and add eggs, one at a time, and blend until each is fully incorporated before adding another. Add cream, salt, and vanilla, and blend until smooth. Turn mixer off, add sifted flour, then mix on low speed until incorporated. Finally, gently fold in grated blue cheese.
  3. In an assembled springform pan, spray inside with neutral spray oil and line with parchment paper. The paper needn’t be perfectly trimmed, so allow to extend over the pan’s edge if it does. Pour cake batter into pan and bake at 450 degrees for 40 minutes. The cake’s top will be deeply caramelized and jiggle slightly in the center. Remove from oven and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
  4. Once cooled, cut and serve cake, or cool another hour to firm it slightly for easier cutting. Don’t overcool, however, since a properly prepared Basque cheesecake is creamy and almost liquid at the center.
  5. Note: If preparing this cheesecake one day out, refrigerate overnight, then remove from fridge and let warm 3 hours prior to cutting and serving.


For the Sweet Tea Syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 regular tea bags
  • 6 ounces dried prunes
  1. In a small pot, create simple syrup by blending water and sugar and bringing mixture to a simmer. Remove from heat, add tea bags and let steep 12 minutes. Remove tea bags and add prunes and allow to hydrate for at least 1 hour before serving.
  2. Note: This syrup can be prepared in advance and can be stored in the refrigerator for future cocktails.

To Serve: Over each slice of cheesecake, add at least 1 tablespoon of syrup (more if desired) and two prunes, then serve.

Owensboro Sour Cocktail

(On finishing day)

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon, 100 proof or higher
  • 1.5 ounces smoked apple juice, recipe above
  • 0.25 freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 0.5 ounces Spiced Simple Syrup, recipe following

For the Garnish: ½ cup of white sugar, teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon Savory Spice Mixture.


For the Spiced Simple Syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 2 grates of fresh nutmeg or teaspoon of ground
  1. To a small pot, add all ingredients except nutmeg, and heat until 165 degrees, stirring to help dissolve sugar. When cooled to warm, add nutmeg, then, using a strainer and funnel, pour into a squeeze bottle or glass jar. (This syrup can be prepared in advance and can be stored in the refrigerator for future cocktails.)



  1. On a small saucer, pour about 2 tablespoons of Spiced Simple Syrup. Carefully dip the first-quarter inch of the exterior rim of a rocks glass into the syrup, coating all the way around the glass, then dip glass into garnish mixture. Add fresh ice and set aside.
  2. To a shaker add cubed ice to about three-fourths full, followed by all liquids. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and, using a Hawthorne strainer, strain drink into iced rocks glass.
  3. Since this cocktail is prepared and served alongside the fresh, hot entrée, make a four-cocktail batch of the drink by measuring and blending all ingredients. Set that aside while you rim the four rocks glasses, then, as the entrée is being plated, recruit a helper to shake half the batch and fill two iced rocks glasses; then repeat for the other two.
Michael Eman
Official Contributor
Kevin Gibson is a free-lance writer who writes for numerous publications, including Bourbon+ magazine, Thrillist, and Alcohol Professor.