Hot Brown

A Hot Brown is a hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. It was one of two signature sandwiches created by chefs at the Brown Hotel shortly after its founding in 1923. The Brown Hotel is a grand property, of distinctive English Renaissance design and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

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According to The Hot Brown legend, "In the 1920's, The Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. In the wee hours of the morning, the guests would grow tired of dancing and retire to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Diners were growing rapidly bored with the traditional ham and eggs, so Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. His unique creation was an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce." 

The dish is a local specialty and favorite of the Louisville area, and is popular throughout Kentucky. Think fondue-like only more of a pub-ish lunch; ideal and comforting during cold weather. The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich w/ turkey and or bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. Other varieties of Hot Browns may include ham with the turkey, and either pimentos or tomatoes over the sauce. 

Making The Sauce

A béchamel or white sauce can be spiced up with a pinch of cayenne pepper, or hot sauce, 1/2 cup IPA (or another good ale), 1 teaspoon prepared English mustard, and pinch of paprika.

Finish the sauce off with 1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese. Whisk in and simmer just until the cheese is melted. Serve a couple tablespoons of sauce over a slice of good wheat toast. Serve as is, or you may want to place the 'Hot Brown' under a broiler for 30 seconds to brown lightly. Top with chopped chives or green onion. I've also topped this with a slice of good ripe tomato + sweet onion. Enjoy.

A Light Béchamel Recipe

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1 Tablespoon sweet butter

1 Tablespoon flour

1/2 cup half & half (can use milk for a lighter version) 

In a small sauce pan over low heat add butter and flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. With a wire whisk add in milk and allow to simmer until slightly thickened.

If using béchamel for Hot Brown, continue adding ingredients as above and simmer for 5 minutes while continuing to stir. 

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