Today is a very full day. It’s the Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and spectacular Moon weekend. I’ve been thinking all week about what to make and blog about and really had a hard time deciding on just one item. Since we eat a lot of Mexican food, I thought that I’d first try something I’ve never had before. The infamous Hot Brown. In my discussions with my foodie friend, Heather, the Hot Brown sounded like a nice treat. She is a Kentucky-born foodie who I really enjoy talking with. We talk recipes all the time!
In looking over the images online, I found many different versions of this very popular sandwich. This got me wondering which was the original way? I’m not from Kentucky, so I
really didn’t know about this sandwich. Well, I’d heard of it, but had never seen it, nor tasted it! After talking to my Foodie Friend Heather…I decided it was time to try it.
What is the Hot Brown? Back in the Roaring 20s, guests of The Brown Hotel was a hot spot for dancers and would attract upwards of 1,200 dancers every evening. After dancing into the early morning hours, guests would head for the restaurant to find something wonderful to eat. At the time, everyone was bored with the typical ham and eggs. To help keep his guests happy and coming back, Chef Fred Schmidt created this open faced turkey sandwich with bacon and delicate Mornay Sauce. Needless to say, this is one popular sandwich today!
This is the Brown Hotel recipe is reminiscent of a time when whole fats were used constantly and stacked on each other. I immediately started thinking about how I could tweak this recipe to make it healthier while still enjoying a classic dish. We don’t use heavy cream in our house, but I realized that the cream is probably what creates a good portion of the flavor, so substituting a low fat milk would probably work well. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, an unsweetened nut milk would work as well as a vegetable protein meat replacement for the turkey and bacon. For the butter, you can substitute with Earth Balance or other type Heart Healthy expeller pressed oil “butter” spread.
The Hot Brown by the Louisville Brown Hotel
2 oz. whole butter
2 oz. all purpose flour
16 oz. heavy cream
1/2 c. pecorino Romano cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste
14 oz. sliced turkey breast
2 slices Texas Toast, crust trimmed
4 slices crispy bacon
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
In a 2-qt saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and slowly whisk in the all-purpose flour to make a thick roux. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream and cook another 2-3 minutes or until the cream begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cheese and stir until the Mornay Sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place the toast in an oven-safe dish, cover with 7-oz of the sliced turkey, take the Roma tomato halves and place alongside the base of the turkey & toast. Pour the Mornay Sauce to completely cover the dish. Top with cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese browns and bubbles. Remove. Cross the bacon on the top, garnish with paprika & parsley. Serve immediately.
This is my version of the Hot Brown with oatmeal toast….and since I don’t eat bacon, I used “veggie” bacon. I know, it’s an oxymoron, but still was good! And I used my sliced yellow tomato – and broiled it with the rest. I used Romano and Parmesan cheeses grated super fine and low fat milk to make the Mornay Sauce. While my hubby didn’t try this (I would have used turkey bacon for him) I enjoyed something a little different for breakfast.
Happy Derby Day!