The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. Legend goes that the hotel had big dance parties and the kitchen invented this sandwich as 1920’s-era drunk food. It’s made of toast, turkey, bacon and mornay sauce, a rich and thick cheese sauce. It’s ridiculous to eat. It’s the best way to use up leftover turkey. Here’s how I made it.
Apologies for the photos – taken with my phone instead of the camera rig I’m using these days!
Bacon, first thing is the bacon. I was plucky this morning and I had my own cured and ready to smoke. Here’s the piece after 45min in the grill, being hot-smoked with cherry twigs I gathered in my own backyard.
Slice it up and get it sizzling! My cure contains some sugar, so I make sure to turn my bacon every minute or two so it doesn’t burn. This is good practice anyway, and prevents curly bacon.
Then you slice up the bread, toast it lightly, then get a Mornay sauce going.
Making this sauce is easy! This recipe makes enough for two servings.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a saucepan.
Add in one tablespoon of flour. Stir it together and let it cook for three to five minutes on low heat.
Add in a cup of milk, cream (#yolo) or a mix of both. Let it come up to a light boil while stirring. This will turn into a thick sauce. If you threw in salt, white pepper and a bit of nutmeg, you’ve got a bechamel right now. We’re going to add in a half cup of grated cheese:
I used a mix of gruyere and a really sharp, crumbly Welsh cheddar. These are both powerful and flavorful cheeses, so you don’t need to use a bunch. Turn the heat off on the white sauce and stir in the cheese until it’s smooth.
Your bacon should be done by now. Put the turkey in the bacon drippings just to warm it up. The turkey should be white meat from a leftover turkey; lunchmeat turkey just doesn’t work. This is such a ridiculous dish that you should only eat it once a year anyway, so save some roast when you’ve got some.
First, gather an ovenproof dish for each person, or use a casserole if you don’t have smaller dishes. You’ll have to portion it out to serve to people, but that’s no bother. Turn on your broiler. Put the toast in the bottom of the dish. Then top with the turkey. Pour the sauce evenly over the turkey slices and then put a few tomato slices on the sides, if you care for them. Don’t put the bacon on yet!
Put the whole thing under your broiler for 3-5min to get it browned and bubbly, but not burnt. Don’t let the toast burn.
Get it out of the oven safely, then top with a dash of paprika, some minced parsley and the bacon.
These are screaming hot when they come out of the oven. Put a trivet under each one so you don’t burn your table.
Serve with bourbon. Chef David Chang described it thusly: “Whoever invented it was drunk, cooking it for drunk people.”