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Hot Brown

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A Hot Brown is a hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. It was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers.

Left: One version of the Hot Brown featuring shredded Parmesan cheese, melted American cheese, and tomatoes.

The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. Many Hot Browns also include ham with the turkey, and either pimentos or tomatoes over the sauce, and imitation Hot Browns sometimes substitute a commercial cheese sauce instead of the Mornay sauce, but fans of the dish usually decry this substitution.

Some restaurants even offer a 'veggie brown' nowadays to attract vegetarians, as the recipe is easy to modify with avocado, or, less commonly, soy burger.

More common alternatives to the Hot Brown include using Cheddar cheese or American cheese for the sauce. Alternatives for garnishes include tomatoes, mushroom slices, and, very rarely, canned peaches.

The dish is a local specialty and favorite of the Louisville area, and is popular throughout Kentucky.

Hot Brown Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Whole Butter
  • 2 oz. All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Qt. Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast
  • 2 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)
  • 4 slices of Crispy Bacon
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
  • Paprika, Parsley

Makes Two Hot Browns.

Recipe Cooking and Preparation Method


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 whipping cream 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 salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.



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