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History of the Hot Brown


So just what is a Kentucky Hot Brown… or Hot Brown?…. it’s a wonderful hot sandwich reminiscent of the Croque Monsieur and the Madame Croque recipes I recently posted. All three sandwiches are covered in a Mornay Sauce. The Hot Brown makes a slightly different Mornay Sauce than the French sandwiches… it uses heavy cream… and the cheese used is Pecorino Romano instead of a Gruyere and Parmesan mix. The sandwich also uses turkey instead of ham.

The history of the Hot Brown dates back to the 1920’s when The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky drew huge crowds in the evening for their dinner dances. In the early morning hours, after the dinner dance, many guests drifted over to the hotel’s restaurant to eat… they became bored with the normal breakfast fare … so the Chef … Fred Schmidt… created a hot turkey sandwich with a Mornay Sauce. It was an instant hit… and so began this legendary sandwich.

This hotel almost defies an adequate description… it is located in downtown Louisville… and is a treasured historical landmark. It is on the National Register of Historical Places. It was built in 1923 and at what was an astronomical cost back then of 4 million dollars. It is a truly grand hotel… with its fabulous architectural details such as the ornate hand-painted plaster relief ceilings, intricately carved railings and crown moldings… it has been restored back to its original grandeur but hosts modern amenities for today’s world. It is an experience in and of itself.

You can go to this fabulous hotel’s website and look over the history and their pictures… and the site also contains the original Hot Brown Recipe.

The Hot Brown recipe has been featured in cookbooks, magazines and even on TV…. a truly famous Kentucky tradition.

I must tell you the original recipe is very rich… the hotel’s description says… the sandwich is covered in a light Mornay Sauce… there is nothing light about this Mornay Sauce…. with heavy cream, butter and cheese…. as well as… the recipe uses a QUART of heavy cream for two sandwiches…. not to mention the original recipe specifies 7 ounces of turkey per sandwich!

A few years back, when I worked for a large company that utilized a vendor based out of Louisville, I was taken out to eat and while it wasn’t at the Brown Hotel… the sandwich I ate was definitely a Hot Brown.. I vividly remember it… I remember the host telling me it was a famous sandwich… and I also remember thinking I would explode if I ate another bite!

So if you’re planning a trip to Louisville… make a stop at the Brown Hotel…. and bring your appetites if you plan on eating the original version of this fantastic sandwich!






Please note... the above photos are from the Brown Hotel website... and the pictured Hot Brown is their photo as well.

2 comments:

Judy April 22, 2010 at 10:48 PM  

I saw this on Food Network, was it Throwdown? Anyway, they looked really good. Something that my hubby would love. I won't be making them for him though.

Linda April 23, 2010 at 5:59 AM  

Hi Judy... after a little research it seems Bobby Flay did do a "Throwdown" challenge for the Hot Brown and lost...

My recipe is the "original" recipe .. just a little lighter... all that heavy cream and butter.. and the huge pile of meat.. was, in my humble opinion, too much...

I'm not so sure I would make the original version for someone I loved either... all that cholesterol!....but I suppose as a special treat ... once would be okay

I'll stick with the lighter version... which, by the way, could be made with margarine and skim milk... which would also help cut the fat

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