The Original Kentucky Hot Brown
Note by Phyllis Brown: How about this for lunch? The original Kentucky Hot Brown – made at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. This is where it all began in the 1920’s when the Brown Hotel would draw over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. In the wee hours of the morning, after tiring of dancing, guests would be ready for an early breakfast. Instead of the usual ham and eggs Chef Fred Schmidt created something new and unique – an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a light Mornay sauce. There are no words to describe this hot brown! The flavors are in exact proportion – some restaurants serve a hot brown with so much cheese that’s all you taste. Not with the original – each ingredient is perfectly matched with the others. Ritchey and I visit the Brown Hotel for the sole purpose of having this delectible lunch!
The hotel itself is a joy to visit. Located at the corners of Fourth and Broadway in downtown Louisville, it is a treasured reminder of the past. It was built in 1923 at a cost of $4 million, and was visited by prominent guests and celebrities through the 1950s. Just walking through from the upper parking lot down to the lobby to the street-level J. Graham’s Cafe for lunch, you can enjoy hand-painted relief ceilings, intricately carved railings and Bottocino marble flooring. It is truly a visit to the past. And spending the night at the Brown is a delight! Ritchey and I call it ‘our’ hotel – well, after all, it is The Brown!
Following is the hot brown recipe from the webpage of The Brown Hotel.
The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe
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.