Recipe of the Month – Worthy of Roses
This weekend marks the 136th running of the ‘Kentucky Derby,’ an event that carries a great deal of history, luster, and magic. This event (and I do mean EVENT) has always been a special one for my mom’s side of the family. Growing up in Louisville, this annual “Run for the Roses” was always a big deal, so much so that my grandma would host Derby parties each year and collected the commemorative ‘Derby’ glassware put out each year (which I now have in my possession ;)). To be honest, until a few years ago, I really had no clue how special this event really was more so than any other horserace. However, I’ve since learned the how grand of an event the ‘Derby’ truly is, and that includes the cuisine….mint juleps, thoroughbred pie, and this month’s ‘Recipe of the Month’…Kentucky Hot Brown.
This sandwich originated in the heart of Derby nation (Louisville) at the famed Brown Hotel (thus the name of the sandwich) in 1926 by Fred K. Schmidt as an alternative to the ham and egg late night suppers he regularly served his patrons, and is unlike any other sandwich you have ever seen! It is big, gooey, cheesy, and one “hot mess”…but we’ll get to that. It’s come to gain a lot of notoriety by Kentucky natives, and they’ll be sure to tell you the “right” way to make it and what exactly belongs on it. That kind of notoriety alone makes this sandwich pop culture worthy. However, when celebrity chef and all around “Food Network” icon Bobby Flay visited the famed Brown Hotel and challenged them to a Hot Brown Throwdown!, we knew that his recipe would be the pop culture cuisine item to try and recreate.
Therefore, without further adieu…I bring you Bobby Flay’s Kentucky Hot Browns, complete with a vintage “Louisville Stoneware” Hot Brown Platter.
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay, 2007
- Prep Time:
- 15 min
- Inactive Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- 1 hr 30 min
- 4 servings
For the turkey:
- 1 turkey breast, about 4 to 5 pounds
- 4 tablespoons unsalted soft butter
- 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
- 8 (1/2-inch) thick slices good day old white bread (recommended: Pullman or Pain de mie)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Egg battered bread
- Roasted turkey breast, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 3 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and griddled until slightly charred and just cooked through
- 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white 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
For the turkey:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Rub entire breast with butter and season with salt and pepper. Place in a small roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 155 degrees F, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
For the sauce:
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.
For the egg bread:
Whisk together the eggs, milk and salt in a medium bowl. Dip each slice of bread in the mixture and let sit about 30 seconds, or until completely soaked through.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook 4 slices of the bread at a time until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread.
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.
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. Place under the broiler and cook until bubbly and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, top each slice with 2 slices of bacon and sprinkle each slice with chives and parsley.
*I chose to cut this recipe in half since it would just be the two of us and I knew this recipe makes a lot.
The first task I had to tackle was cooking the turkey for the sandwich. This required buttering and salting the bird and roasting that bad boy for about two hours. Next up, while the turkey was roasting, I worked on prepping the other items required for the compilation of the sandwich itself. This required cooking the bacon, whipping up the cheese sauce, and making the egg bread…
I will admit while the turkey was in the oven, I was definitely busy. When I am cooking a new recipe or one that I have not just improvised, it takes me awhile to both read all of the instructions and prepare the ingredients. Although none of the pieces were necessarily hard to whip together, they all just required various ingredients, dishes, and prep. Plus…I’m sort of a messy cook. So while that turkey was cooking, I stayed pretty busy getting everything prepped so that when it was finished I would easily be able to assemble the sandwich and pop it in the oven. I knew my man would be hungry when he got home from work and would want it ready! 🙂 2 hours later this emerged…
Yes that’s right, I cooked a whole turkey. One, we wanted the dish to be authentic; and two, I love it for leftover sandwiches! However, given that I roasted that little 6-pound bad boy, I then had to tackle the art of carving, something I will continue to leave to Adam, as I do not seem to be gifted in that area (when I was all done I just ripped off all the remaining meat to save haha). 🙂
…and as you can see, when my wonderful husband (Adam) got home, he was even kind enough to snap a few candid shots of me wrestling with the various ingredients. Please disregard the fact that I am still in my gym clothes, sweaty and totally gross. But hey…that’s me…take it or leave it! I am no Giada in the kitchen:)
Nice shorts huh? 🙂 Anywho…after all that prep, it was time to assemble the masterpiece: 2 slices of the egg bread, 2-3 slices of roasted turkey, 2-3 slices of tomato (slightly grilled), then slathered with the special cheese sauce…
Finally, I covered the monstrosity with more grated cheese and placed it under the broiler to get “brown” and bubbly; and that is exactly what it got…
At the end, you top this bubbly, hot, gooey, cheesy brown mess with 2 slices of bacon on each piece and sprinkle with chives and parsley. When all is said and done, you present your eagerly awaiting husband with one “Hot Brown”…
Let’s say it all together…Cheesy Goodness! Now, I will admit right away…I only took one bite of this dish and promptly ate my turkey over a spinach salad. 🙂 After spending all this time to prepare the dish I just was no longer interested in eating it, as well as we are headed to New Orleans in a week and I am saving all the room I have to enjoy that trip. But the one bite I did have was very delicious. Adam really enjoyed it, as well; and he was so full after just one slice of the sandwich, he decided to save the rest. This half of the recipe actually would have created 2 more full slices, but we opted not to make them since he was the only one eating the dish.
So how do I rate Bobby Flay’s version of this Kentucky classic for all you home cooks out there? For starters, make sure you get the right bacon…don’t scrimp to save a buck. Evidently, you get what you pay for with bacon; and I will never again scrimp and buy the value brand. it was all fat, cooked horribly, and although tasted fine, it did not look pretty. So seeing that this dish was actually pretty inexpensive to put together (roughly $30 all together with the turkey; $5 per person based on the recipe), spend the extra “cheese” on some good bacon. Additionally, I think the serving size was more than enough than what was mentioned in the recipe. Adam could only eat half of a serving, so I think this recipe could easily feed plenty and even allows for left-overs.
As for easy this dish was to prepare…although Mr. Flay lists this dish as needing an intermediate cooking level, it required a bit of work for the first time out. This is not to say it wouldn’t be easier my next time around; but for an initial recipe, be prepared for a bit more of a challenge that ‘intermediate.’ To help matters, I think the roast turkey could be easily subbed with deli turkey. Beyond that, feel free to send some questions my way and I could give you an easy tutorial on the turkey part…which brings me me to practicality. I knew I was prepping to make this dish, so I was well prepared for the task. But on a night where one might be trying to “whip up” some quick sandwiches for dinner, this may not be the way to go. It does require a bit more work, so for the average person on any given night, this may not be the right recipe. Still, if you have time to plan it out and prepare Hot Browns for a special occasion, the taste is worth the work. I think it is safe to assume with that combo of flavors and cheesiness, it was a win win in our book! So with all that in mind…I give Bobby Flay’s Kentucky Hot Browns a 4 Little Piggies. FINALLY…A RECIPE THAT WORKED! 🙂