Is this comfort food heaven? No, it's just Kentucky, but it's as close as it gets. The world famous Hot Brown sandwich is a warm and luxurious way to end a long day (or night). Great when you need something soul-hugging, or when you're hosting a proper Kentucky Derby party. Learn how to make a Hot Brown with this easy to follow recipe.
Mike's Recipe Rundown
- Taste: A hella-cheesy open face sandwich with savory turkey and bacon. Drown it all in a sharp cheese sauce seasoned with a paprika and a hint of nutmeg to add depth to an indulgent bite.
- Texture: Hella-rich. Fluffy bread topped with turkey drenched in a mornay sauce is about as decadent of a bite as one can create. The crispiness of the bacon add a nice contrast to the otherwise butter-soft dish.
- Difficulty - Intermediate: A good mornay sauce takes a little bit of finesse, but nothing incredibly difficult here.
- Pros: Comfort food perfected. Rich and wonderful, this is the meal your stomach yearns for late into the night.
- Cons: This is a meal that should be immediately followed by a nice, long nap. Rich - heavy, so this isn't something to put down if you plan on being especially active afterward.
- Would I make it again? Definitely! But, because it's crazy rich, this is an occasional indulgence.
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What do I need to make a Hot Brown?
A toaster is needed to get your bread going. Ideally, you'll make each hot brown in an individual oven safe skillet (affiliate). If you don't have that, you can make multiples in a cast iron pan (affiliate). A small saucepan (affiliate) and a rubber spatula (affiliate) will be perfect for preparing your mornay sauce.
What is a Kentucky Hot Brown?
Originated at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, legend has it the Hot Brown was created by the kitchen staff late at night. With the kitchen shut down, they made something up with just what they had in their fridge. Then, then hot brown was born.
The result is an open face turkey sandwich, served on crustless, toasted white bread and drenched in a mornay cheese sauce. Top it with tomato, bacon and parsley for the ultimate in comfort food sandwiches.
Chef's Tips and Tricks
- In this recipe, we call for precooked turkey breast. You can do this one of three ways (read on).
- Our top recommendation would be to make sous vide turkey breast. This is the best way to guarantee you cook it to the perfect, juicy temperature.
- Option two would be to roast the turkey breast. To do this, rub the breast with butter and season with salt an pepper. Roast for 15 minutes at 425°, then reduce heat to 350° and check temperature after an hour. Pull when the breast has reached 155° internal temp.
- The last option would be to simply purchase thick sliced turkey breast from the deli counter. Ask them to slice it as thick as possible.
- Pecorino Romano cheese is typically kept in the specialty cheese section of the grocery store, not on the shelf with your normal cheeses. If you want to keep this thing authentic to what they make at the Brown Hotel, this is is a must.
Find out why people love our most popular recipes, like Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin, Instant Pot Chicken a la King and Homemade Beef Stroganoff. When it's burning hot in Tallahassee, I love to pop some Arnold Palmer Popsicles in the freezer, or cool off with Pomegranate Margaritas.
When to make a Kentucky Hot Brown
This may just be the world's best 2 AM bad decision. So yeah, it's definitely a recipe that ripe to be made when - you know - you're in the mood for a 2 AM bad decision meal.
It's also an awesome dish to whip up when you're hosting a Kentucky Derby party! Alternatively, you could whip up Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders as more of a finger good to go along with a tasty Mint Julep.
How to Make a Kentucky Hot Brown
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet (affiliate) with aluminum foil and lay bacon flat on pan. Cook 8 minutes, then flip and cook 8 minutes more. Remove and place on a plate with paper towel to soak up excess fat and set aside.
Next, bring a small saucepan (affiliate) to heat over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt, until just foaming. Stir in flour with a rubber spatula (affiliate) until fully incorporated. Continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add milk ¼ cup at a time. Pour in ¼ cup of half and half, then stir in. On your first couple, the milk will thicken up within about 30 seconds. Continue pouring ½ cup at a time until all milk has been added. Add in salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for two more minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat and stir in Pecorino Romano cheese. Continue stirring until smooth and set aside.
Cut crust off thick sliced white bread and toast to golden brown in a toaster. Meanwhile, slice your precooked turkey breast into ½ inch thick slices. If you are getting your turkey from the deli counter, ask for them to cut it as thick as possible. Set aside.
Turn broiler in oven on to high. Place oven rack on second shelf from the top.
In a small cast iron pan (affiliate), place down a slice of toast and top with half of your thick sliced turkey breast. Top with two slices of tomato and pour cheesy mornay sauce overtop. Place in oven and broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2-4 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, it can burn quickly if unwatched!
Remove from oven. Place two bacon strips on top and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Cut second piece of toast diagonally and place on each side of hot brown. Sprinkle extra Pecorino Romano cheese overtop of plate. Serve hot and enjoy!
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Authentic Kentucky Hot Brown
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2 hot browns 1x
Invented in Louisville at the Brown Hotel as a late night comfort food, this dish absolutely delivers. Rich, cheesy and absolutely delicious!
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups half and half
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus another pinch for garnish
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg.
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- 4 slices thick cut white bread
- 4 slices bacon
- 14 oz turkey breast
- 4 sliced tomato
- Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with aluminum file. Lay bacon flat on sheet and cook 8 minutes, then flip and cook 8 minutes more. Remove to plate with paper towel and set aside.
- Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Drop in butter and allow to foam. Add flour and mix in with a rubber spatula. Cook for three minutes. Then, pour in half and half ¼ cup a at time, stirring in after every pour. Add salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg and cook 3 minutes while stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Set aside.
- Cut crust off thick sliced white bread and toast to golden brown in toaster. Slice turkey into ½ inch thick slices. Turn broiler on to high.
- In a small cast iron pan, place down one slice of toast, then top with a portion of turkey breast. Top with two slices of tomato, then spoon over with cheesy mornay sauce. Place in oven and broil from 2-4 minutes, until cheese just begins to brown.
- Remove from oven. Top each with two strips of bacon with sprinkle parsley overtop. Cut second slice of toast diagonally and place on each side of hot brown. Sprinkle with extra cheese overtop and serve hot!
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 30
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Broil
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Kentucky Derby Food, Comfort Food, Turkey Sandwich