Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches

When I discovered this antique recipe, I was transported back in time. Open-faced sandwiches are no longer the most fashionable lunch option, but they were formerly considered a polite way to offer your visitors. They can also help you save money because they are so customisable. This may have appealed to my chronically frugal mother, as she used to make these for us growing up–and she only made frugal meals!

When I saw the name, I remembered how fondly Mom mentioned these sandwiches, having grown up in Virginia and Kentucky. I was overjoyed to get this delight again as an adult, and the reason for it is the delicious flavor of these single slice sandwiches.The term “Kentucky Hot Brown” sandwiches is derived from the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The sandwich was initially made for hotel guests in 1926. According to the account, individuals would attend dances in the hotel’s ballroom and be exceedingly hungry after doing the Charleston or waltz all night.

At the time, the late-night menu was primarily limited to ham and egg platters. Repeat visitors at the balls became weary of the same old, so the chef, Fred Schmidt, devised a new dessert that could still be prepared quickly at that late hour. People were fed this hot sandwich at the Brown Hotel, thus the name.To create this recipe at home, begin with some sturdy bread and toast it for durability. Sourdough is my preference, although Texas toast or any thicker bread will suffice. I do not advocate using the soft sandwich bread you would use for your children’s lunches because it frequently comes apart in the oven.

These sandwiches are generally topped with turkey, but you may substitute ham or chicken if desired. Then add a layer of tomatoes, followed by a heavy slathering of mornay sauce.The sauce is easy to create. Simply mix a roux with butter and flour, add milk, and then melt the cheese in it. If you’re impatient like me, add a metal stick blender to the saucepan to help the cheese blend into the sauce more quickly.

My mother usually added a pinch of paprika and freshly ground pepper to the sauce. I also added some white pepper to my sauce for added flavor. You could add chives or red pepper flakes, whichever you choose.The last layer consists of two strips of crisp bacon put crisscross over the top of each sandwich. Then, put your pan of sandwiches under the broiler for a few minutes, and voilà! You have Kentucky hot brown sandwiches.

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