Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Hot Brown

There are a lot of recipes out there to use up your leftover Thanksgiving turkey. But this one is different. I will smoke a turkey breast just to make this classic sandwich. We first made this about 10 years ago based on the Joy of Cooking's version.
The Hot Brown has a storied history. Back in the 1920's, guests flooded the ornate Brown Hotel and it's magnificent ballroom in downtown Louisville, KY, over a thousand a night. (Picture below is of the lobby, not the ballroom.)By the end of a night of dancing, they were famished and Chef Richard Schmidt wanted to provide an alternative to ham and eggs at midnight and the Hot Brown was what he came up with.

According to Robert Parker's Haunted Louisville, the Brown Hotel has some ghosts. If you ask me, the dearly-not-so-departed hotel guests are probably just hanging around for one of these awesome open faced turkey & bacon sandwiches. The broiled cheesy mornay sauce would make me want to come back from the dead!

The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe
Courtesy The Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY

Ingredients (Makes Two Hot Browns):

2 oz. Whole Butter
2 oz. All Purpose Flour
1 Qt. Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish
Salt & Pepper to Taste
14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast
2 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)
4 slices of Crispy Bacon
2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
Paprika, Parsley

In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk whipping cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 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 broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

We did ours a bit different, only because I liked how the Joy of Cooking version layered the sandwich as bread, bacon, sliced tomato, and then the sliced smoked turkey. We also sliced our tomatoes instead of just halving them.

The sauce was enough for more than 5 sandwiches for us. Also, the previous version we are used to is much thicker and browned all bubbly on top under the broiler.

Here you can see a lot of the Mornay sauce tonight ran off and drooled onto the plate. Next time, I'd cut the cream amount to about half so more of the sauce stays on top. You want some to drip off but you want it on top too. We topped ours with more diced bacon, cheese, and green onions.

This is a definite fork and knife sandwich. It contains 100% of the USDA's recommended daily allowance of delicious.

Keep this one in mind when you have some extra turkey laying around. And if you find yourself in Louisville consider a visit to the historic Brown Hotel.

PS: Handy traveler tip - If you do go to the Brown Hotel, you get a Hot Brown, and a ghost tries to steal a bite of it, tell it to either "go to the light" or get its own damn sandwich. It's kind of like bears, don't feed them it only encourages them.