It’s that time of the year! Instead of being one of the gazillion sites to post a whole turkey recipe, I’ve decided to post a creative something to do with those turkey leftovers. Forget about the typical, mundane turkey sandwiches this year and try this: Take the leftover turkey and place it on a piece of savory french toast; top it with a gruyere cheese sauce and tomato; broil it in the oven until it gets all nice and toasty; top it with two slices of bacon and fresh chives when it comes out.
Hot Browns have become a tradition with leftover turkey in my house dating back one whole year. In my opinion, not only one of the best open faced sandwiches of all time, but one of the best sandwiches. For you history nerds, the famous Hot Brown was first created by Chef Fred Schmidt in 1929 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The sandwich was designed to satisfy the late night partying crowds at the hotel. The sandwich has since become one of the most beloved regional American sandwiches, alongside the likes of the Poboy, Philly Cheesesteak, and Lobster Roll.
We’re going to create a savory french toast for the base of the Hot Brown. Typically, this is done with plain toast, but we’re not going for “typical” here. I like to go the extra mile and make the french toast, for the following reasons: 1.) The bread will have better flavor 2.) The french toast will contribute to the desired “richness” of the dish 3.) The softness of the bread will make the texture of the dish more appealing. In a bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1 cup of whole milk, 2 pinches of kosher salt, and 1 pinch of ground nutmeg. We will need two thick slices of bread. In this example I am using the Italian Pane Bello, but Pullman works just fine. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Dredge each slice of bread into the custard, then lightly toast on each side until nice and brown. Set aside.
Time to create the Mornay sauce. A Mornay is a classic cheese sauce made from the mother sauce “Bechamel”(milk thickened with a roux). A roux is equal parts fat and flour. For the roux in the this recipe, I’m using 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of all purpose flour. Start off by melting the butter in a sauce pot, then add the flour, and cook for just a minute or 2 to cook out the raw flour flavor. Then add 2 cups of whole milk to the roux, and slowly bring to a boil. The sauce will not reach it’s full thickening power until it’s brought to a boil. Once brought to a boil, reduce to a simmer, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, and let cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of shredded gruyere cheese. You never want to cook cheese for too long, or it could lead to stringiness and fat separation, which is why I add the cheese at the very end. This dish typically uses cheddar or parmesan, but I opted for gruyere for it’s it’s more complex, assertive flavors and aromas.
Preheat the broiler to 550 degrees fahrenheit. In an oven safe dish, add the bread, top with that leftover Thanksgiving turkey, pour the Mornay sauce very liberally over the whole dish, top with 2 slices of beefsteak tomatoes, and broil for about 4 minutes, or until toasty and brown. Top each sandwich with 2 cooked pieces of bacon and fresh chives. Serve!
Kentucky Hot Brown
2 thick slices of Pane Bello or Pullman bead
3 tbsp of butter
3 cups of whole milk
kosher salt, to taste
1 pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 cups of grated gruyere cheese
1/2 lb of leftover Thanksgiving turkey
2 slices of beefsteak tomato
4 slices of cooked bacon
fresh chopped chives, for garnish
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 cup of milk, the nutmeg and 2 pinches of salt. Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet. Dredge each piece of bread in the egg mixture, and then toast in the skillet until nice and brown on each side. Set aside. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in the bottom of a sauce pot, then add the flour, stirring and cooking for a minute. Add 2 cups of whole milk, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cayenne pepper, remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cheese until melted. In an oven proof dish, add the bread, top with the turkey, generously pour the cheese sauce all over, top with the tomato slices and broil at about 550 degrees fahrenheit until toasty and brown all over. Remove from oven and top each sandwich with 2 slices of cooked bacon and fresh chives. Serve!