People from all over the country come every year to the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky to try the legendary hot brown, a sandwich that’s on par with the Derby and bourbon as one of Kentucky’s cultural calling cards.
Invented at the hotel nearly 100 years ago, the decadent open-faced sandwich is a close cousin of both Welsh rarebit and the croque-monsieur, made with hand-carved turkey, bacon, tomato, Texas toast, and Mornay sauce.
The official story of the hot brown goes like this: In the 1920s, the Brown Hotel hosted lavish dinner dances during which patrons would work up an appetite for dancing and merrymaking. One night, instead of the usual ham and eggs, head chef Fred Schmidt concocted a new dish in the hotel kitchen with items he had on hand. He called it the hot brown after the hotel.
The Original Hot Brown Sandwich
- 2 slices thick white bread toasted
- 4-5 slices turkey breast roasted
- 2-3 slices bacon cooked
- 2-3 slices tomato
- 2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make the Mornay Sauce
- To make the Mornay sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes until the mixture turns light brown.
- Gradually add the milk to the saucepan, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the Sandwich
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- To assemble the sandwich, place one slice of toasted bread in an au gratin or other oven proof dish. Top the bread with the slices of turkey, followed by the tomato.
- Spoon the Mornay sauce over the top of the sandwich, making sure to cover everything evenly.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the Mornay sauce is bubbly and lightly browned.
- Place the bacon criss cross over the top and leave in a minute longer to heat the bacon. Remove the sandwich from the oven and serve hot. Enjoy!