The Kentucky Hot Brown

With the  Kentucky derby slated for this weekend, I thought it would be fitting to highlight a lesser known tradition that goes along with the annual horse race.  While Mint Juleps, big hats, and seersucker suits have become synonymous with the "Run for the Roses", one of Kentucky's oldest and most popular culinary creations often gets over looked.  

    The Hot Brown was created in the 1920's at Louisville's Brown Hotel, and is still served there today, virtually unchanged from the original.  It is an open faced sandwich that boasts very thinly sliced turkey, crispy bacon and tomato piled on a thick slice of toast and all blanketed by a cheesy mornay sauce.  its finished under a broiler with an addition of parmesan cheese on top.

    This is a knife and fork kind of sandwich, and because I like to load up on the velvety mornay sauce, Its best to use a thick cut toast for the foundation.  I like to use the Tribeca Challah pullman for this, because you can slice it to your preference.  I simply toast the challah slices in a liberal amount of butter,  to accentuate the richness of the bread.  Once you have all your components ready to go, its very easy to assemble and serve.

    So come Saturday, host your own Kentucky Derby themed party complete with this Louisville staple.  Massachusetts residents have an extra reason to watch this year as well, with a horse from the North Shore slated at 8-1 odds and racing on the far outside.  "Wicked Strong", named for the victims of last years marathon bombings will break from the 20th post.  Let's go Wicked Strong!

Recipe makes 4 open faced Hot Browns


  • 4 thick challah pullman slices, toasted in butter and reserved
  • 12 oz. sliced roasted turkey 
  • 1 cup (4-oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 thick cut bacon slices, cooked 
  • Mornay Sauce, see recipe below.

         Mornay sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups milk 
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Mornay Preparation
    • Melt butter in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in cheese, salt, and pepper and cayenne.

Hot Brown Preperation

  • 1. Preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from heat. 
  • 2. Arrange toasted challah bread slices in 4 lightly greased broiler-safe individual baking dishes. Top bread with turkey slices. Pour hot Mornay Sauce over turkey. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • 3. Broil 6 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned; remove from oven. Top sandwiches with tomatoes and bacon. Serve immediately.