Hot Browns 8.000

Len Spoden

Apr 25, 2007

This Louisville classic was created in 1923 by chef Fred Schmidt at the Brown Hotel. Every night more than 1,000 guests would go to the hotel for its dinner dance. When they got tired in the early-morning hours, they would duck into the restaurant for a bite.

Chef Schmidt put together this open-faced turkey, bacon, tomato and Mornay sauce sandwich as an alternative to ham and eggs.

Servings: 8 generous servings
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups whole or 2 percent milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 8 slices thick-cut sandwich bread
  • 8 ounces smoked turkey, sliced to the thickness of your choice
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatoes, cut into 8 slices
  • 8 strips cooked bacon
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour to make a roux; cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until it becomes golden.

Add the milk slowly, whisking constantly, then add the cayenne pepper and salt to taste and cook until the sauce has thickened. This can take up to 15 minutes but requires only occasional stirring. (Keep in mind that when the cheese is added, the sauce will thicken further.)

While the sauce is cooking, position the top oven rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler element and preheat the broiler. Have ready a large, ungreased rimmed baking sheet.

Lightly toast the bread in a toaster, a toaster oven or an oven, turning to brown both sides. Lay the toasted bread slices on the baking sheet and top each piece with 1 ounce of turkey, 1 tomato slice and 1 bacon strip. (To follow Louisville tradition, cut the slice of bacon in half and form a small "X.")

When the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and add the cheddar cheese, stirring until the sauce is smooth. Pour over the open-faced sandwiches. Sprinkle each with a little of the Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler for a few minutes, until the Parmesan is bubbly and the edges of the bread are browned. Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

This is Louisvillian Jennifer Ahearn's version, which she suggests cutting into smaller pieces -- if you can do so without making a mess. You'll need a large rimmed baking sheet.

Tested by Bonny Wolf.

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