Thursday, May 8, 2014


Kentucky Hot Brown

Mint Julep
Congratulations to California Chrome, winner of 2014's Kentucky Derby!  And best of luck for the next two up-coming races for a chance at the Triple Crown!

We were ready last week. We had the 140 Kentucky Derby Woodford Reserve®, fresh mint and super fine sugar for the Mint Juleps. 

However, I also wanted to make a dish associated with the Derby like Pimento Sandwiches are to the Masters Golf Tournament or Hot Dogs are to Baseball, so I did some research and discovered the Hot Brown Sandwich.

The Hot Brown Sandwich is an open-faced sandwich of roasted turkey breast and tomatoes, covered in a Mornay sauce, and baked or broiled. It is topped with bacon, Pecorino Romano cheese and garnished with parsley and paprika. It was originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926.  In the 1920's, the Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. In the wee hours of the morning, the guests became tired of dancing and drinking bourbon, so they would visit the restaurant for something to eat. Diners were getting bored with the traditional ham and eggs, so Chef Schmidt created the Hot Brown.

Needless to say, I wanted to make this.  After reading the story and recipe from the Brown Hotel and also finding a recipe from Bobby Flay (He owns race horses in Louisville and is a master at Southern cooking), I was ready and came up with my own version.

In the original recipe from the Brown Hotel, whole turkey breasts are roasted.  For the bread, Texas toast is used and sliced to 1 1/2 inches thick.  Next, tomato quarters are added and topped with a Mornay sauce (a Béchamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese added).  This is placed into the oven until the sauce melts all over the turkey.  Finally, this is topped with bacon, garnished with shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, chopped parsley, and paprika.

For my version, I roasted turkey breast tenderloins in a bourbon and maple glaze. I used rustic brick oven Italian artisan bread fresh from my local bakery.  For the Mornay sauce, I made a roux then added sharp white cheddar cheese, Pecorino Romano, a hint of freshly grated nutmeg and white pepper.  Separately, I grilled slices of turkey bacon and then grilled sliced tomatoes in the same pan.  The sandwich was topped with the turkey bacon and garnished with shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, flat-leaf parsley and smoked sweet paprika.  The sandwich was a great accompaniment to the Mint Juleps.

2 Slices of bread -- Texas toast, brioche, or Italian artisan
Maple-Bourbon Roasted Turkey Breast Tenderloins, sliced, recipe follows
Mornay Sauce, recipe follows
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
6 slices turkey bacon, grilled until crisp
6 (1/4-inch) thick slices ripe tomato, grilled in the same pan used to cook turkey bacon
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
1/4 teaspoon of smoked sweet Paprika, for garnish

Maple-Bourbon Roasted Turkey Breast Tenderloins
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 package of Shady Brook Farms® Turkey Breast Tenderloins, about 2.5-3.0 pounds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together maple syrup, mustard, and bourbon in a small bowl and lightly season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set mixture aside.

Rub inside of a roasting pan with butter.  Pat some butter on tenderloins and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Place tenderloins in pan and roast for 20 minutes.  Turn pan and roast for another 20 minutes. Add maple-bourbon mixture to pan and roast for an additional 20 minutes, turning pan every ten minutes and basting with maple-bourbon mixture. Continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the center of loins registers 155 degrees F, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Mornay Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/8th teaspoon)
Pinch of white pepper (about 1/8th teaspoon)

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute to form a thick paste or roux.  Continue to cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk milk into the roux and cook until the mixture begins to simmer, about 3-4 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in cheeses until melted. Add nutmeg and white pepper.  Keep sauce warm.

To Finish
Lightly toast bread slices
Place turkey slices on bread
Top with grilled tomatoes
Pour sauce over dish, completely covering it
Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano Cheese
Place entire dish in oven until cheese and sauce melts, begins to brown and bubble
Remove from oven
Add turkey bacon on top`
Top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, parsley and paprika
Serve Immediately


Woodford Reserve® Classic Mint Julep
2 oz. Woodford Reserve
1 oz. water
1 t. sugar
4 sprigs fresh mint

Muddle three sprigs of mint, sugar, and water in the bottom of a julep cup or highball glass. Fill glass with crushed ice. Add Woodford Reserve and stir. Use fourth mint sprig for garnish.

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