Hot brown sandwiches have quite a history in Kentucky. Hot brown sandwiches are big seller on Kentucky Derby Day and they are a popular lunch special du jour at American diner restaurants.
The original version of this classic open face sandwich is the Louisville Hot Brown, which was created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The original recipe calls for a Mornay Sauce with toast, turkey, tomato and bacon. White Cheddar can be used to make Mornay Sauce, but Mornay is not made like a crème sauce with cheese. The mother sauce for Mornay is Velouté.
Outside of Louisville, hot browns are usually made with Cheddar Cheese Sauce or Welsh Rarebit. When a yellow cheese sauce, like Welsh Rarebit, is used to make a hot brown, the sandwich is usually called a Kentucky Hot Brown instead of a Louisville Hot Brown.
Today's Hot Brown was made with Welsh Rarebit, so it is a Kentucky Hot Brown and not a Louisville Hot Brown. Welsh Rarebit is an old traditional Welsh cheddar cheese sauce that has ale in the list of ingredients.
All Hot Browns are baked in an oven, till the cheese sauce is lightly browned. Crisp bacon is usually placed on the hot brown after baking. Some Hot Brown versions are made with ham or a combination of ham and turkey.
This recipe yields enough rarebit for 2 to 3 hot browns!
Step 1: Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Add an equal amount of flour while stirring to create a glossy roux.
Cook and stir the roux, till it just begins to emit a hazelnut aroma and it becomes a very light golden blonde color.
Step 2: Add 1 1/4 cups of English Ale, while stirring with a whisk.
When the ale and roux combine, add 3/4 cup of milk.
Add 1/4 cup of cream.
Stir the sauce.
Step 3: Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Simmer and reduce the sauce is a very thin consistency that can barely coat a spoon.
Step 4: Add 1 1/3 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese, while stirring. (orange color cheddar)
Whisk the sauce, till the cheese melts and becomes part of the sauce.
Step 5: Add 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.
Add 1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
Add 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Step 6: Simmer and reduce the rarebit, till the sauce is a medium sauce consistency. Be sure to stir occasionally.
Keep the rarebit warm over very low heat or reheat the rarebit to order.
Kentucky Hot Brown:
Step 1: Cook 2 strips of hickory smoked bacon on a sauté pan or a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
Cook the bacon, till it is crispy.
Set the crispy smoked bacon strips on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess grease.
Keep the bacon warm on a stove top.
Step 2: Toast 2 slices of pullman bread. (Whole grain bread is nice with this recipe!)
Set one of the slices of toast in a casserole dish.
Cut the other piece of toast in half from corner to corner.
Set the toast halves on opposite sides of the piece of toast in the casserole dish.
Step 3: Spoon about 1 ounce of the Welsh Rarebit over the toast.
Place 4 ounces of thin sliced roasted turkey breast on the toast.
Spoon a generous amount of the Welsh Rarebit over the turkey and toast.
Place a few tomato slices on the rarebit and turkey.
Step 4: Bake the hot brown in a 350º oven, till a few brown highlights appear on the rarebit.
Step 5: Remove the hot brown from the oven.
Place the hot brown casserole dish on a doily lined serving plate.
Place the reserved 2 crisp bacon strips on top of the hot brown.
Garnish with a parsley sprig.
A Kentucky Hot Brown is a great chilly weather lunch entrée. One taste of a Kentucky Hot Brown that is made with Welsh Rarebit will show why this is the most popular variation of the original Louisville recipe!