kentucky hot browns.

kentucky hot browns

We are getting so close to the Derby! Every year, Mark and I go to Kansas City to celebrate with our friends. Things always get pretty crazy, but it is one hell of a weekend and I can’t help but get excited for it even a month out.

In tribute to this epic event, tonight is Kentucky Hot Browns night.  You really can’t go wrong with bread, meat and cheese, right?  I’m pretty sure meat and cheese are my two primary food groups … aaaand apparently I am still just ten years old.  That’s ok.

kentucky hot brownObviously Kentucky Hot Browns are nowhere near healthy, but we are going to try to keep it light. We are using decent bread, healthy turkey, tomato,  a couple strips of bacon and mornay sauce.  It’s not THAT bad, right? My butt may not get any smaller by eating it, but at I can’t hear it growing as I chow down. That’s how you look at a glass half full.

Ok, so maybe it is getting bigger as I eat this.  But we have to celebrate the Derby somehow, right?  And there’s always Thursday to eat healthier and go to the gym.  Maybe not TOMORROW Thursday, but surely some Thursday in the near future.

kentucky hot brownMark brought up the idea of keeping track of how much each dish costs.  I really like this idea, seeing as how our rent here in downtown Chicago is pretty outrageous and we could use any aspect of our lives as a way to reel back some expenses.  I may not break down the cost for each recipe, but this one is fairly simple!

  • 1 deli fresh French bread roll = 75 cents
  • 1/2 lb. turkey = $3
  • 1/3 tub shredded gruyere + a little Parmesan = $3
  • 2 strips bacon = roughly $1
  • 1 organic tomato (on sale) = 25 cents
  • butter / milk / spices / flour = about $1 total
  • TOTAL COST = $9.00 for two sandwiches!

For dinner, I say that is pretty awesome.  We would typically spend $50-75 on dinner out, so this helps a bit!

[my additional tips!]:

Actual Prep / cook time:  30 minutes

Clean-up difficulty:  2 [easy stuff!]

Overall difficulty to make:  2 [don’t let mornay sauce intimidate you. it’s easy.]

Overall satisfaction:  8 [should have used more bacon! :)]

Price range?  This dish is under $10 for the entire recipe.

What I would change next time?  More bacon, maybe a variation of more cheeses… I’m going to do a little research and see what more we can add to this recipe! 

For your own version, I recommend:

  • Lessen the amount of Mornay sauce just a little – it’s really good, but you don’t have to drench the sandwiches with it.  Unless you want to, I am definitely not stopping you!
  • Slowly add the cheese – this helps with keeping the mornay sauce creamy and consistent. 
  • Crumbling bacon on top of the tomatoes miiiiight be pretty awesome!  And the photo I have in this post is without the Parmesan on top and not broiled.  For the real effect of a hot brown, don’t skip the broiling step!

© 2015 : a flavor journal : by sara alvord

kentucky hot brown


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kentucky hot browns.

kentucky hot browns | an open-faced sandwich piled high with roasted turkey, cheesy mornay sauce, crispy bacon and fresh tomatoes.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 2
Author: sara rose :


  • 4 strips bacon crispy
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 oz. gruyere cheese shredded
  • 1 oz. parmesan shredded
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 lb. sliced turkey
  • 1 deli fresh French roll
  • 1 small tomato


  • Cut two bacon strips in half, wash with cold water, and bake at 425 degrees on a baking sheet for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven, flip each strip over, and bake another 7-8 minutes until crispy.

For the Mornay sauce

  • In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour for 30 seconds until absorbed, then whisk in milk.
  • Bring saucepan to a boil, whisk to blend, then bring heat back to a simmer. Let it simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in shredded cheeses until smooth, then add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk for another 30 seconds until completely blended.

To build the sandwich

  • Cut the deli French roll in half length-wise, and then slice each half into another length-wise half. You should have four slices of bread, each the original length of the roll.
  • On a broiler-safe dish, lay two slices side-by-side. The dish should preferably be an individual size, and should be able to accommodate extra sauce at the bottom without spilling out once it is baking. Small dishes with about an inch-high wall would be ideal for this.
  • On top of your bread, lay two halves of bacon (1 strip total, cut in half). Top the bacon with layers of turkey, totaling 1/4 pound (or less if you prefer). Spoon 3/4 cup of your sauce onto the turkey, top with two more halves of bacon (1 strip total again), and then finish with two fresh slices of tomato.
  • Grate fresh Parmesan on top of the tomato, and broil for about 5 minutes, until the cheese sauce is bubbly and Parmesan starts to brown.
  • Serve hot -but be careful not to touch the dishes with you bare hands!


The recipe for the Mornay [cheese] sauce makes a little more than 3/4 cup per sandwich. Feel free to lessen it if you wish, or use a different melting cheese if you are not a fan of gruyere.
Using any type of bread for this dish is fine; I used the deli roll because I can buy them one at a time and that works better for me!

check the "about me" page for more information on Sara.
    • Nancy Hunt McDonald
    • July 17, 2015

    Sara best example of a real Kentucky Hot Brown on Pinterest. Might I add however that as a true, older Kentucky gal. That plain ole’toasted white bread for base and add ham with turkey.

    1. Reply

      Nancy, thank you! And I am ALWAYS open to learning ways to improve the recipes I’ve posted! I appreciate the feedback so much, and would love to make this in a more traditional way. Would you cube the toasted white bread (I saw this done the other day), or just keep the bread as a whole slice? Thank you again!!

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