Hot Brown

GHL  on location Montauk, NY

GHL on location Montauk, NY

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. 

According to The Hot Brown 86 year 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 aka Welsh Rarebit 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. 

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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

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

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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Chocolate-Cranberry Bread Pudding Recipe

I like to use day-old French Bread in bread pudding because it has more flavor than the gummy white kind. Cinnamon-raisin bread, sweet rolls, even left over Irish soda bread can also be substituted for part of the bread. Puree some seasonal berries for a sauce or serve with a little chocolate sauce, spiked for festive gatherings.

Chocolate-Cranberry Bread Pudding Recipe

Makes 10-12 servings | From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV series
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3-4 cups cubed dry French bread
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberry, raisins, or craisins plumped in 1 cup hot water for 5 minutes
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups milk
8 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1 Teaspoon nutmeg 

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, butter, and beat with a whisk until well blended. Slowly pour over the bread, cranberry/raisin, nut and chocolate mixture. Poke the bread so that it’s completely covered with the milk mixture and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  

Place a pan larger than the cake pan or skillet in preheated oven and place the pan holding the bead pudding inside. Immediately fill the outer pan with enough hot water so that it comes up one inch on the sides of the bread-pudding pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the water bath, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for 25 additional minutes.

Remove the bread-pudding and allow to set for two hours before removing it from the pan.

Serve with warm fruit, vanilla or chocolate sauce.

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