If you have never traveled through Kentucky, well, I am not sure what to tell you. Kentucky is a really beautiful state, and as many of us might know Kentucky for its Bluegrass music, or the Kentucky Derby, or better yet that Abraham Lincoln was born, I know it for the mint juleps and a sandwich that many of you might never had seen, heard, or tried before. That sandwich is known as the Hot Brown.
Probably not the best name for this open-faced sandwich, but when you make it, you will understand when it comes out from the broiler, hot and bubbly. The sandwich has been around since the 1920’s and was invented in Louisville, Kentucky at the Brown Hotel, a hotel which still exists to this day, as does the sandwich.
I have been wanting to make this sandwich for some time now, and with the passing Thanksgiving holiday, I figured this would be the prime opportunity to make the sandwich. Boy, am I ever glad that I did!
The sandwich is simple, yet divine. It is a sandwich unlike most other sandwiches, not just because it resides on thick Texas toast, or possibly the fact that it is smothered in a mornay sauce, but it also had the wonderful thick sliced tomatoes, and oh yeah, topped with smokey bacon!
Enough said. Let’s get started.
Ingredients for the Mornay Sauce:
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Begin by melting the butter in a sauce pan. Once melted and it begins to bubble, add in the flour. Stir to mix all of the ingredients, and continue to stir for a few minutes, until you have a nice golden brown. Just be careful not to burn it. Slowly add in the cream, and begin whisking at a slow pace. Continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken and the flour mixture is nice and smooth.
Remove it from the heat, add in the cheese, the nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set this aside.
Ingredients for the Hot Brown Sandwich:
- 4 slices of Texas toast bread, crusts trimmed
- 1 cup of roasted turkey
- 1 large tomato, cut into 1 inch slices
- 4 slices of cooked bacon
- Reserved bacon fat, optional
- Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
- Flat leaf parsley, chopped, optional
Preheat your broiler to 450 degrees.
To an oven proof serving plate, add the slices of bread, and lightly brush with some of the bacon fat on both sides. Place into the broiler oven for a few minutes to lightly toast, then remove the plate from the oven.
Stack two slices of the bread onto individual, oven safe plates. I used a cast iron, fajita-style plate for this sandwich. To each sandwich, top with the roasted turkey, then two slices of tomato, then coat the sandwich with the mornay sauce. Sprinkle with some pecorino romano cheese. Place back into the broiler oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is really bubbly and begins to turn brown in some areas.
Remove from the oven, top each sandwich with two slices of bacon, and shower the sandwich with chopped parsley.
Cutting into this open faced sandwich is something beyond words. A bit rich from the cheese sauce, sure. But the combination of the bread that soaks up the mornay sauce, along with the subtle sweetness and acidity from the tomato, and then there is the warmed turkey with the bacon, and when all said and done, it is nothing but pure heaven in a bite. So if you never get to Kentucky, at least you can make one of these Hot Brown sandwiches! Hope you enjoy.