After a night of dancing into the wee hours during the Roaring Twenties, revelers in Louisville would stop by the Brown Hotel’s restaurant, where Chef Fred Schmidt concocted an open-faced turkey sandwich smothered in classic Mornay sauce that helped keep the good times going – or fortify the start of a workday. His rich and refined dish has endured as the hotel’s signature menu item. Our recipe makes only one alteration to the basic formula: thick Texas toast provides a more solid foundation for the gravy-topped goodness.
Kentucky Hot Browns
Makes 16 Finger Sandwiches
No matter how you slice it, this classic will feed—and please—a crowd
photo: Margaret Houston
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper
4 thick-cut slices Texas Toast, crusts removed, toasted
16 slices roasted turkey
4 Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
8 cooked thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
Chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the broiler.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Cook, whisking, until a light golden roux comes together, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the cream and cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes, just until the mixture comes to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the cheese, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Toast the bread under the broiler for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until browned to your liking. Place each toasted bread slice in the bottom of an individual ovenproof dish. Top each piece of toast with 4 slices of turkey. Spoon a scant 1/2 cup sauce over each and evenly sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Place under the broiler and broil until lightly browned and bubbly, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the tomatoes and bacon.
Place a toothpick or skewer in each of 4 quadrants of each sandwich, then cut in between them to create 4 squares. Sprinkle with parsley, a light dusting of paprika, and a little extra salt and pepper and serve.
Recipe from Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Cookbook.
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