If you’re from Kentucky it’s likely you’ve heard of the Hot Brown Sandwich. The rather unusual name comes courtesy of the famous old Brown Hotel in Louisville, where the sandwich was invented in 1926 and still features the sandwich on the menu. It’s rumored that the chef came up with this recipe as an alternative to ham and egg late night suppers.
The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, covered in cheese sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and sauce begins to brown. Sometimes the sandwich includes ham, pimentos or tomatoes.
Making a cheese sauce is a great way to turn a sandwich into a main dish for weekday suppers. If you make gravy, a cheese sauce is basically the same thing made with butter instead of drippings with cheese added. I usually start by making a roux with 1/4 cup butter, melted in a skillet; stirring in a 1/4 cup all-purpose or self-rising flour. Cook and continue stirring until roux is bubbly, but not brown. Gradually add 2 cups milk, bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheese until melted. Add salt to taste. This makes a thick sauce, so add milk to achieve your desired consistency.
Creative Southern chefs love to substitute biscuits for bread in classics like Eggs Benedict, so why not make a hot brown on Martha White Hot Rize Biscuits or even Sweet Milk Corn Cakes? The versatility of this sandwich allows any meat you have on hand to be used like turkey, chicken, ham or bacon. It’s not only delicious, but satisfying on a cool night.