The Kentucky Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich that was invented at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville. My family has always enjoyed it after Thanksgiving with the leftover turkey, but since friends were coming over to watch the Derby this weekend, I thought it would be the perfect comfort food to accompany our mint juleps (and the kids were almost guaranteed to eat it as well).
Traditionally, you make this in individual serving dishes, and eat it piping hot from the oven. I created this version that can easily be made for a crowd. Despite how rich it is, you’ll be amazed how quickly it disappears!
Kentucky Hot Brown Casserole
- Approximately 2 pounds roasted turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 10 slices good quality bacon
- 1 package (2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 slices wheat bread, toasted
- pinch cayenne pepper
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 3 cups Bechamel sauce (recipe to follow)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a large, shallow baking dish
- Fry bacon on medium-low heat just until is is a bit translucent, but not too crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside
- To make the bechamel sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. DO NOT BROWN BUTTER. Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the butter and whisk until incorporated. Make sure you cook the flour for a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw taste, the flour will foam and bubble a little. Again, do this over fairly low heat so that the mixture doesn’t brown. Slowly add 3 cups of warm or hot milk whisking to avoid lumps. Raise the temperature and cook until the sauce thickens.
- Once the bechamel reaches the desired thickness (think pancake batter), turn off the heat and add half of the cheese, a pinch of salt and cayenne. Stir until the cheese is thoroughly melted.
- Spread a little of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan
- Tear the toast into 1 inch pieces and layer on top of the sauce
- Layer the turkey on top of the toast, then top with the rest of the bechamel
- Sprinkle the top with the remainder of cheese, bacon (either in strips or cut up into pieces) and pepper
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden and very hot
- Serve hot with a light salad for a very satisfying meal