I’m not going to sugar coat it. The first time I tried a Kentucky Hot Brown, I hated it.
To quote myself, “Under the cheese shower curtain was pretty bland. Swimming in the sauce were two pieces of toast, Canadian bacon, sliced turkey, sliced tomato and topped with two strips of bacon. What… the… heck…”
Taking into consideration my stellar review of my first Hot Brown and listening to a random internet person tell me it was amazing — why would I try it again? That is a fair question. When my wife, zippy toddler and I sat down at one of our favorite haunts, we saw that the Hot Brown was the special. I figured at the very least I will get to blast the Hot Brown as something old Depression-era people ate because there was nothing else to eat. But really it is an icon and it has to be better than the one I had.
Boy was I right. This version I had of it was out of this world. No longer were sad thin strips of deli turkey a staple of the dish. This version had full-on carved turkey piled high on perfectly buttered toast, warm tomato slices and topped with a normal amount of gravy, cheese and bacon. To say it changed my mind on the Hot Brown is an understatement. This thing was flat out delicious.
I suppose the lesson to be learned here is regional staples are only as good as the people making them. A steak from a chain restaurant won’t compare to a steakhouse and the same goes for the Hot Brown. That… and the dinner I went to must have paid internet Stacy to talk up the first Hot Brown I had.
Clip this recipe and save it for after Thanksgiving. I can’t think of a better way to use up your leftover turkey.
Kentucky Hot Brown
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the egg bread:
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk salt
8 (1/2-inch) thick slices good day-old white bread
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Egg battered bread
Turkey breast, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
3 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and grilled until slightly charred and just cooked through
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 thick slices slab bacon, cooked until crisp
Finely chopped fresh chives
Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Heat up leftover turkey in oven covered with aluminum foil.
Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and the flour has cooked out, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in cheese and cook until the cheese has melted. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Whisk together eggs, milk and salt in a medium bowl. Dip each slice of bread in the mixture and let sit for about 30 seconds, or until completely soaked through.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook 4 slices of bread at a time until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread.
1. Preheat broiler. Place the egg bread on a baking sheet, place under the broiler and heat on both sides for 20 seconds just to warm through.
2. Top each slice of bread with 2 to 3 slices of turkey and 2 slices of tomato, ladle sauce over the top and divide the cheddar cheese and Parmesan over the top of each slice.
3. Place under the broiler and cook until bubbly and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, top each slice with diced bacon and sprinkle each slice with chives and parsley.