Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Out of Kentucky Kitchens" - Hot Brown Sandwich

Date I made this recipe: May 3, 2009

Out of Kentucky Kitchens by Marion Flexner; introduction by Duncan Hines
Published by: Bramhall House
© 1949
Recipe: Hot Brown Sandwich – p. 31-32

“And they’re off. They’re coming down the stretch….”

Saturday was (Kentucky) Derby Day in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the famous Churchill Downs and so in honor of that occasion, I made a version of the famous Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich.

The cookbook didn’t go into the details of how this sandwich came to be famous, except to say it was created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, so I Googled it and found that it was created as an alternative to late-night ham and egg sandwiches. I’ve also read that the sandwich was concocted from leftovers on hand in the kitchen. Either way, it’s an interesting sandwich, one that I’d say is along the line of southern comfort food (bacon + cheese sauce!), and one that might be darned good after a night in a bar to absorb all the alcohol. (Not that I made it for that purpose).

I also think that the dish is probably best experienced in its “native” environment (i.e. a Louisville restaurant) as the results were good but not great. The cheese sauce never got a chance to really bubble before the broiler started scorching my bacon and the parmesan cheese never really melted, either. A kitchen salamander ( a professional broiler) would probably kick this dish up a notch, allowing everything to melt at just the right time and temperature, but alas, I do not have one at home!

Still, the lack of a broiler should not dissuade you from making this dish as it is pretty simple to assemble and tasty even if it could have stood a bit more heating time as well as placement on a lower oven rack. I say make the dish, mix yourself a mint julep or two...or more... and sit back and watch the annual Run for the Roses (as the horse race is often referred to).

Speaking of horse races, one of the funniest episodes of the TV show, M*A*S*H was titled The Trial of Henry Blake (Season 2 – aired in 1973). In this episode, Henry got in trouble with the Army brass for allowing, among other things, the camp’s version of the Kentucky Derby. To this day, all I have to do is say “It’s Bouncing Betty, Bouncing Betty in the lead…” and people know of what I speak. Check it out if you have a chance.

Hot Brown Sandwich – serves 4
4 slices of toast
4 slices baked chicken or turkey (cut from the breast) about ¼ inch thick
¼ c. American cheese, grated
8 strips bacon, fried crisp
4 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cream sauce (Note: this recipe didn’t have one so I got one off the internet. I guess back then, they just thought everyone knew how to make a cream sauce!)

Cream sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Blend 2 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly. Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.

Blend yellow cheese with cream sauce until cheese has melted. Place a piece of chicken on each piece of toast, and cover with ¼ cup of sauce. Place 2 strips of bacon (previously cooked) on each sandwich, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese. Place sandwiches in a pan under the flame until the cheese melts and becomes golden brown (in other words, broil the sandwiches until the cheese melts.) Serve at once.

PS—In case you didn’t know, Duncan Hines was a real person way before his name ended up on a cake mix box!

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