The Kentucky Hot Brown

Turkey. Cheese. Bacon. Bread. Cheese sauce. Starch…That’s the Kentucky Hot Brown.

Carbs. It’s what’s for dinner.

Well, dinner, or lunch. Or even breakfast in my case. But be afraid. Be very afraid. If you consume this masterpiece at breakfast – your day is shot. Not shot as in “I ate a Hot Pocket for breakfast” shot, but, shot as in “I need a nap immediately” shot. If you can even utter the entire sentence before your head falls into the plate, that is.

The Kentucky Hot Brown originates from the heydays of the Roaring Twenties, when times were good and dances were held every night of the week in Louisville, Kentucky at the Brown Hotel. Late at night, after hours of boisterous partying, the hotel guests would make their way into the restaurant, hungry for what every intoxicated patron craves – grease and starch. (If you don’t believe me, I dare you to visit a Waffle House at 2am on a Saturday Night.) So, after bacon and eggs became passe, the Executive Chef invented the infamous Hot Brown…and a legend was born.hotbrown1

Since those days at the Brown, the Hot Brown has been served in hundreds of restaurants and dives around Kentucky, each with their own take on the masterpiece. What remains constant is the layer of toasted bread, the pile of turkey, a bit of fried bacon, a side of tomato, and the ever present cheese sauce. The original Hot Brown used a delicate Mornay Sauce to smother the sandwich, and added a layer of ham to the mix as well, and you will most often find that this is the case in other restaurants as well. Some places have taken it up anotch with a serving of mashed potatoes beneath the cheese sauce. Some have replaced the ham with proscuitto or roast beef. But all – yes – all of them will douse the open faced Hot Brown in enough cheese to harden any artery.

I’ll be honest – I didn’t get the hype. A turkey sandwich. With cheese sauce. Big deal, right? What’s so great about that? Depends on the cheese. Don’t attempt this sandwich with Velveeta. Sure, Velveeta has it’s place – and I do love it in my macaroni – but not here. What you want is Pecorino. Or Parmegiano Reggiano. Or Parmesan or Gruyere. Trust me. The Mornay Sauce is the kicker.

This sandwich is the answer to your Thanksgiving leftover turkey. Pile it on some toast, make a quick sauce, fry a few piece of bacon, slice a tomato – you’ve got your visiting in-laws in a coma by 2pm if you serve it for lunch. (10 if you make it for breakfast!)

Enjoy it, folks!

The Kentucky Hot Brownhotbrown2

makes 4 large servings

  • 4 slices toasted french or italian bread
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 12 slices fried bacon
  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced or leftover turkey
  • 4 slices ham (if desired)
  • 1 recipe Mornay Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Heat oven broiler. Place 4 slices of toast on baking sheet, or, if available, 4 single baking/serving plates. Pile turkey atop each piece of toast, followed by a slice of ham. On top of this, pour your Mornay Sauce, and sprinkle each with a bit of cheddar cheese and bacon. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and oozing. Remove from oven, add the fresh tomatoes, and enjoy!

Simple Mornay Sauce

  • 3 ounces Butter
  • 3 ounces All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 cup shredded Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese (Gruyere if you have it)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Begin by making a simple roux by combining the four and butter over medium heat until smooth. Add in cream and continue to cook until lightly simmering, whisking constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add in cheese, whisking until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you would like to make the original Louisville Brown Hotel Hot Brown, here is the recipe link. Have a great day!


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