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The Hot Brown

The History of The Brown Hotel's "Hot Brown"

With so much to boast—award-winning dining, breathtaking turn-of-the-century architecture, and attentive, caring service—some may wonder, "Why the Hot Brown?" Here is the history behind this now legendary dish.

In the 1920's, the Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. In the wee hours of the morning, the guests would grow tired of dancing and retire to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Diners were rapidly growing bored with the traditional ham and eggs, so Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. His unique creation was an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. Exemplifying our unending dedication to serving our guests, the Hot Brown was born!

And now the Hot Brown—a Louisville tradition with worldwide appeal—has been featured in Southern Living, The Los Angeles Times, NBC's Today Show, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, Travel Channel's Man v. Food, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as being included as a regular entry in many of the finest cookbooks. Click here to view the Hot Brown.

The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe

Ingredients (Makes Two Hot Browns):

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream  
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
  • 4 slices of Texas toast (crusts trimmed)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Paprika
  • Parsley

In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy 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 nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

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