Last year, the venerable Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg was honored by the James Beard Foundation as one of America’s Classics, with a menu deeply rooted in Kentucky.
In announcing the award, the Beard foundation said the Beaumont Inn “serves Kentucky products with pride, including Weisenberger meal, Meacham hams, and bourbons from the best distillers in the state. Recipes for dishes like corn pudding and fried chicken, handed down through five generations, form the core of the menu.” This specific award is given to locally owned restaurants with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food.
To celebrate, Beaumont Inn is releasing a sixth edition of its cookbook. And this time the inn is holding nothing back.
Generations of diners have asked for the recipe for the mock scalloped oysters, to no avail. It’s in there.
Likewise lunch favorites like Beaumont’s version of the hot brown sandwich and the frozen fruit salad, as well as the cornmeal batter cakes made with Weisenberger cornmeal and topped with brown sugar syrup for breakfast at the inn are included.
There are also plenty of old recipes, too, ones that have been in all of the previous versions of the cookbook. Actually, almost all of the recipes are old because Beaumont Inn will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019.
“It started with my husband’s family. He is fourth generation,” said Helen Dedman, who runs the restaurant and inn with her husband, Chuck, her son, Dixon, and his wife, Elizabeth.
The building started life as a girls’ college, built in 1845. When it closed, the dean of students, Annie Bell Goddard, bought it with husband Glave, not knowing what she would do with it but not wanting it to be lost.
“They slowly redid the rooms, and at that time, there were a lot of tobacco salesmen and schoolteachers who traveled through and would stay,” Helen Dedman said. Also, many former students came back to see the old college. “And of course she had to feed them and put them up for the night.”
Eventually they began charging and Beaumont Inn was born.
“I’m sure she didn’t fathom it would go along for four generations,” Dedman said. “Now our son, Dixon, is the fifth generation.”
The first cookbook came out in the 1920s, and it wasn’t encyclopedic.
“It was just a little pamphlet, 10 to 12 pages,” she said. But it proved popular, so a decade later daughter Pauline Goddard Dedman updated it with a few more recipes.
“Then, when Chuck and I came back in early 1970s, Chuck and his dad did another, a little bigger, with color photo on the outside, probably 20 to 25 recipes,” Dedman said. In the 1980s, it was remade as a spiral-bound cookbook.
“That one was so popular, so they revised again,” she said. That version had been reprinted seven times before the family decided to release the sixth edition of Beaumont Inn Special Recipes this year.
And this version of the cookbook has much more than just recipes. It acknowledges the origin of the good food so many have enjoyed prepared by the staff of female black cooks, and in some cases generations of women who dated back to the college who brought their culinary knowledge with them. Many of the original recipes were handwritten, of course, sometimes just a list of ingredients with no instructions, Dedman said.
The predecessors include Hat Crutcher, who began working at Beaumont College as a “fire girl” alongside her mother. She was working as a cook at the school when it closed. When the inn was started, she was asked to come back and help with breakfast. Crutcher also is credited with encouraging the Goddards to expand to dinner.
Another was Bessie Bryant Fischer, whose career at Beaumont spanned more than 30 years, following in the footsteps of her mother, Lina Coffey Bryant. Fischer’s sons and grandsons also served in the Beaumont Inn dining room.
“A lot of these women who worked here either perfected or brought recipes, and they contributed mightily to our success,” Dedman said.
The latest version of the cookbook also includes modern dishes that are served in the newer Old Owl Tavern and the Owl’s Nest, which are more casual dining rooms. And one drink recipe, the Beaumont Inn mint julep.
Old-fashioned winners like corn pudding, buttermilk biscuits and hush puppies live on, too.
And the secret to the mock scalloped oysters can finally be revealed: the dish is made with diced eggplant and chopped clams. So now you know. But if you want the recipe, you have to buy the cookbook. It’s available for $20 from the Beaumont Inn gift shop and on the website, Beaumontinn.com.
If you go
Helen Dedman will have a tasting of items from Beaumont Inn Special Recipes and sign copies of the book from 4 to 6 p.m. July 9 at Beaumont Inn, 638 Beaumont Inn Drive. Cookbook is $20.
Beaumont Inn’s Kentucky Hot Brown
From Beaumont Inn Special Recipes, sixth edition
2 toast points
2-3 slices roasted turkey (not deli, thinly sliced)
2/3 cup chopped country ham
2 or 3 slices tomato
2 slices of bacon, cooked
For Mornay sauce:
4 cups heavy cream
4 cups half-and-half
2 ounces chicken bouillon cub (or 5 ounces chicken broth and leave out water)
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 ounces water
3 ounces cornstarch
For Mornay sauce:
Heat first four ingredients in top of a double boiler over simmering water until warm, about 5 minutes. Mix 3 ounces of water into cornstarch. Add to mixture in double boiler; cook until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
Makes about a half gallon.
For hot brown:
In an individual portion (8- to 12-ounce baking dish, arrange toast points in bottom. Cover with 2 or 3 layers sliced turkey. Sprinkle with chopped country ham. Top with slices of red, rip tomato. Ladle Mornay sauce over to cover completely. Bake in 450-degree oven approximately 10 minutes or until bubbly hot and lightly browned. Place 2 pieces of fried bacon on top, and return to oven for 2 minutes.
Makes 1 sandwich.
Frozen Fruit Salad
From Beaumont Inn Special Recipes, Sixth Edition
1 (16-ounce) can pineapple tidbits or chunks
1 (16-ounce can fruit cocktail
1 (6-ounce) bottle maraschino cherries
3 medium bananas, sliced
12 ounces whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise (such as Hellmann’s)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Drain canned fruit well. Whip the whipping cream to a very thick consistency. Stir in the sugar. Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt until well mixed and smooth. Mix the whipping cream with the cream cheese and fold all fruit into mixture.
It is best to fill 3 cylindrical 1-quart cardboard containers and freeze. Then these can be cut into 6 equal round servings per carton, or 18 servings. It can be frozen in freezable plastic or glass containers but it is more trouble to cut and dip out.
We recommend serving on a lettuce leaf topped with 1 teaspoon mayonnaise and a small piece of parsley. Served at Beaumont Inn with chopped country ham biscuits and carrot sticks.
Yield: Approximately 3 quarts or 18 servings.