The Kentucky Derby is full of traditions, traditional drinks, traditional attire, and even traditional food, including The Hot Brown. You may be asking “What Is a Hot Brown” and “Why is the Hot Brown A Derby Food?” Here is the history behind this now critically acclaimed dish.
In the 1920’s, The Brown Hotel in Louisville drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. By the wee hours of the morning, guests would grow weary of dancing and make their way to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Sensing their desire for something more glamorous than traditional ham and eggs, Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests’ palates. His unique dish? An open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown was born!
Today, The Brown Hotel is a popular after-race destination where they are of course infamous for The Hot Brown.
Makes Two Hot Browns
- 2 oz. Whole Butter
- 2 oz. All-Purpose Flour
- 8 oz. Heavy Cream
- 8 oz. Whole Milk
- ½ Cup of Pecorino Romano Cheese
Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish
- Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast, Sliced Thick
- 4 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)
- 4 Slices of Crispy Bacon
- 2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
- In a two‑quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium‑low heat, stirring frequently.
- Whisk heavy cream and whole milk into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2‑3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth.
- Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
- For each Hot Brown, place two slices of toast with the crusts cut off in an oven-safe dish – one slice is cut in half corner to corner to make two triangles and the other slice is left in a square shape – then cover with 7 ounces of turkey.
- Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of the turkey and toast.
- Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Place the entire dish in the oven. The suggested bake time is 20 minutes at 350º. When the cheese begins to brown and bubble, remove from oven, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.
Recipe and photos from BrownHotel.com