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Festive Holidays At Holly Hill Inn

Renowned Executive Chef Ouita Michel and husband Chef/Sommelier Chris Michel opened the restaurant in 2001. They have succeeded in turning it into one of the most successful culinary experiences in the state. Menus change periodically, with Kentucky-grown meats, homemade products, and fresh produce dominating Chef Ouita’s mouth-watering dishes.

Holly Hill Inn is known for its scrumptious holiday spreads. “The holiday season at Holly Hill Inn is a very special time for us and we have tried to establish traditions we observe every year,” says Chef Ouita. “Each Thanksgiving Day for the past nine years, my family has helped Chris and me decorate the inn for Christmas. We have a 10-foot tree in the foyer and numerous other trees in dining rooms, as well as wreaths and swags and bows and balls that we hang everywhere.”

She adds, “On the menu we have always served a Jam Cake with Caramel Icing that we make from scratch and Chocolate Bread Pudding with whiskey sauce.

“Our Christmas salad is called the Della Robbia and is made with local lettuces grown right here in Woodford County, served with dried apricots, cranberries, local apples or pears, and a honey vinaigrette made with local Woodford County honey.”

Chef Ouita adds, “I think the use of locally grown and produced foods is something special about Holly Hill Inn. We take pride in the fact that we are helping other small-business people like ourselves, and as a chef I feel the food just tastes fresher and better when I am able to use a Kentucky Proud product.”

In addition to lunch and dinner menus, an upscale brunch menu is served every Saturday and Sunday for an amazing price of $15 for adults and $7.50 for children ages 10 and younger.

Holly Hill Inn is open for lunch reservations 11 a.m.–​2 p.m. on Fridays with a three-course meal for $15. Dinner courses are á la carte and there’s a vegetarian tasting menu of four choices, $45; Chef Ouita’s special tasting menu of five courses, $55; or seven courses for $65.

In addition to Holly Hill Inn, the Michels own two other restaurants and a tavern in the Bluegrass, Wallace Station Deli and Bakery just outside Midway, and Cleveland’s and Park Street Bourbon Bar in Versailles.

In May, Brown-Forman Corporation named Chef Ouita as chef-in-residence for its Woodford Reserve Distillery outside Versailles. Along with serving as spokesperson for the distillery’s culinary endeavors, Chef Ouita creates menus especially for events and private parties, lunches, dinners, and demonstrations at the distillery.

Holiday luncheons at Holly Hill Inn
From Dec. 2-23, Holly Hill extends their daytime hours to include Wednesdays and Thursdays as well as their usual Fridays for the fabulous holiday luncheon, which features a special menu, appetizers, and delicious drinks. The inn will be adorned in its holiday finery and ready for festive parties and special gatherings. Reservations are recommended by calling (859) 846-4732.


Holly Hill Inn Della Robbia Salad Dressing
Makes 5 cups
1 C honey
2 shallots, chopped
1 C apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp orange zest
3 C salad oil
1 Tbsp salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp white pepper, or to taste

Blend honey, chopped shallots, orange zest, and apple cider vinegar in a blender or food processor. With blender running, drizzle in salad oil. Blend in salt and pepper. Keeps in refrigerator one week. (You can cut this recipe in half.)

Prepare a bed of Bibb lettuce, baby greens, or mesclun spring lettuce mixture. Add your favorite items to the salad, such as pear slices, fresh orange slices, nuts, dried cranberries, and thinly sliced red onion. Drizzle 2-3 Tablespoons of salad dressing and serve.

Holly Hill Inn’s Holiday Roulade of Pork Tenderloin
Serves 8
2 pork tenderloins
16 strips bacon
1 shallot, minced, or 2 Tbsp minced onion
1 rib celery, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced (optional)
1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
1⁄2 cup dried apricots
1⁄2 cup peeled and diced apple or pear
1 Tbsp olive oil
1⁄4 C apple cider
1 Tbsp Woodford Reserve or your favorite bourbon
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté shallot, ginger, and celery in olive oil until just wilted. Add cranberries, apricots, and apple; cook together 2-3 minutes. Add apple cider and bourbon. Simmer until liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Reserve. Filling can be made ahead.

Stuffing and roasting tenderloins
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly trim one tenderloin; remove the very narrow end. Gently butterfly the loin, cutting the length of the loin but not through it. Open cut loin like a book and gently pound with the heel of your hand. Season loin with salt and pepper. Spoon half the fruit filling onto the pork in an even rectangle across the bottom half of the loin. Roll the loin, tucking it together and enclosing the fruit filling. Lay out 8 strips of bacon, slightly overlapping each strip. Place rolled pork loin on the bacon and wrap bacon around loin. Tie in four places. Repeat for second loin.

Heat a large oven-safe sauté pan and cook loins on all sides, crisping the bacon. Place pan in oven and roast 25-30 minutes. Remove and let loins rest 5 minutes before carving.

Pan Sauce
Optional: For a quick pan sauce, drain roasting pan of extra bacon fat. Add 1/4 cup bourbon, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1 Tbsp coarse mustard or Dijon mustard. Reduce by half.


Jam Cake
Serves 15-20
1 C butter
2 C light brown sugar, sifted
2 C buttermilk
3⁄4 C raisins
3 1⁄2 C all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsps soda
1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp plus 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 C seedless blackberry jam
1 C chopped nuts
3 eggs
1 1⁄2 tsps cinnamon
1 1⁄2 tsps ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325°. Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add jam. Shake nuts and raisins into 1/4 cup flour; set aside. Add cocoa, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, and cloves to remaining flour and sift together. Mix into batter alternately with buttermilk. Fold in nuts and raisins. Grease a 9″ tube pan generously. Spoon batter into pan. Bake until batter leaves sides of pan or until wooden toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Cake takes approximately 45 minutes to bake depending on your oven. The toothpick test is the best way to tell when it is done. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto cake plate. Let cool completely, then frost with caramel icing.

Caramel Icing
3⁄4 C butter
1 1⁄2 C brown sugar
1⁄4 C plus 2 Tbsps milk
3 1⁄2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter over medium heat and add brown sugar. Add milk and bring to a boil, stirring often to keep from sticking. Take off stove and let cool completely. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth and creamy. Add additional milk if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time. This will frost 1 cake baked in 9″ tube pan or an 8″ cake that is 2 layers.

Submitted by Lynne Throckmorton, Versailles.
Lynne writes: “This recipe is a family favorite. My mom was always expected to make this cake and bring to family dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I have taken over that responsibility. My mom would always garnish the top with whole pecan halves, and her cake would be just beautiful until one of my uncles would decide to pick them off and eat them every year before the cake was ready to be served. I decorate the top of my jam cakes with chopped pecans—that way no one will want to pick the nuts off the top of my cakes.”

Submit your own recipe to our READER RECIPE column.


Get Chef Ouita’s recipe for Holly Hill Inn’s Cheese Wafers. Chef Ouita freezes the logs of dough then bakes fresh later when holiday guests arrive.

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