No doubt about it, Louisville owns the bragging rights on the Hot Brown.
The legendary, open-face sandwich, which is made from Texas toast, thick-sliced turkey, cheesy Mornay sauce, crisp bacon and tomatoes, all baked until bubbling hot, was born here.
It all began at Louisville’s historic Brown Hotel back in the 1920s.
History goes that more than 1,200 guests would come each evening for the downtown hotel’s dinner and dance. When the guests finished kicking up their heels in the luxurious ballroom, they would head to the restaurant to sit back for a bite to eat. But it wasn’t long before they grew tired of the traditional late night ham and egg suppers that were being served.
So one day Chef Fred Schmidt decided to cook up a new, mouthwatering menu item. The Hot Brown was born.
These days, the Brown Hotel has become synonymous with the tasty entrée and estimates making between 400 and 500 each week. The requests double during Kentucky Derby season.
But the Hot Brown is not just a local favorite. It’s received attention all over the globe, including in Southern Living, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. It’s also been spotlighted on the “Today” show, “Good Morning America” and Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food.”
The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe (Makes two hot browns):
- 2 ounces of whole butte
- 2 ounces of all-purpose flour
- 1 quart heavy cream
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 14 ounces sliced roasted turkey breast
- 2 slices of Texas toast (crust trimmed)
- 4 slices crispy bacon
- 2 Roma tomatoes sliced in half
- Paprika, parsley
Preparation: In a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and a thick paste (roux) forms. Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, which is about two to three minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven-safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from the broiler. Cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Serve immediately.