Home » Gastronomic Travel » Forget the Kentucky Derby, the Hot Brown sandwich is what made Louisville Famous
Forget the Kentucky Derby, the Hot Brown sandwich is what made Louisville Famous

Forget the Kentucky Derby, the Hot Brown sandwich is what made Louisville Famous

brown hotelDuring the Roaring 20’s Louisville, Kentucky was happening! During this time period Louisville was a center for manufacturing, bringing in people with disposable income. The downtown thrived during this time period  as people liked to eat, drink and dance, think of The Great Gatsby. Famous hotels like The Brown Hotel would host these parties and set up late night restaurants for revelers to wind down and sober up.


Even flappers got hungry from doing the Charleston they ate the Hot Brown sandwich

As the legend goes, ham and eggs was the popular dish, although people would get bored of it week after week.  The now legendary Chef Fred Schmidt had an idea to keep his customers, a new hot mess dish that would match his inebriated customers. He developed an open-faced turkey Sandwich with Mornay sauce smothered all over it. The Maitre d, told the Chef Schmidt it looked a little boring , so the chef put it under the broiler, added bacon and pimentos.  The Hot Brown was born. 

Aside: what is Mornay sauce?: The mother sauce of a Mornay sauce is a Bechamel, which is a white sauce made with roux of butter, flour milk. The Mornay adds grated cheeses like Gruyere and parmesan. 

hot brown sandwich

The Hot Brown: Image Courtesy of www. BrownHotel.com

I dare not consider the amount of calories in this sandwich. One day I plan on visiting the Brown Hotel and dining at the English Grill so i can order this sandwich, made the exact same way it was just under 100 years ago. This is the recipe  posted on the Brown Hotel Website (recipe courtesy of www.brownhotel.com   

Ingredients (Makes Two Hot Browns):

2 oz. Whole Butter

2 oz. All Purpose Flour

16 oz. Heavy Cream

1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish

Salt & Pepper to Taste

14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast

2 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)

4 slices of Crispy Bacon

2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half



In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. I love the roaring twenties and this sounds like a sandwich that can match the timeframe’s famous decadence. I don’t want to know the calorie content either, but would love a bite of this savory creation.

  2. Looks good! now im hungry!

  3. Alexandra McAllister

    WOW! Love the post and the pics. As usual, Tom, I’m always hungry after reading your articles! LOL! Thanks so much for sharing. Love it!

  4. Elizabeth Maness

    This Great Tom! You didn’t get make me hungry you also taught me how to make the dish! So gonna try too!

  5. Carla J Gardiner

    Oh my goodness this made my mouth water. Takes me back to the days of my youth when we used to visit a place called Trailways. Home cooking at it’s finest to accomplish what the chef did with the Hot Brown…sober us up.

  6. Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com

    Oh my goodness – this looks and sounds amazing (and like a week’s worth of calories :)!)

  7. Meryl Hershey Beck

    Great post Tom. I like how you give background information on the dish and then follow up with the recipe.

  8. Barbara Becker

    Wow, what a sandwich! And wow, what an article! I love how you added the background story to the food. It makes it more interesting and brings more interest and love to the recipe.

  9. I have to admit, it DOES look more interesting than a plain ham sandwich! Bacon added the extra touch for me!

  10. You got to move to CA!! I need to find more good food places here 😉

  11. That looks wonderfully decadent! Good thing it’s time for lunch here, because you’ve made me hungry again! :)

  12. Moira Hutchison

    I love those Roaring 20’s pics – it was quite the era wasn’t it.

    Now I’m feeling hungry so I’m going to make some lunch – not as many calories as your sandwich here though :)

  13. Daniele Holmberg

    Dude, I love those pictures & event though I already ate lunch, you made me hungry again! When are you going to make this one for us for dinner?? It is a must!! <3

  14. Now Tom…This looks delish! But oh my heavens..I gained weight from eliminating cigarettes and then more after I broke my ankle..its a good thing I don’t live close by to where they serve these. Wow..they look great! I get hungry every time I come here!

  15. It looks deadly but delicious. We may be heading that way this summer so maybe we will stop by and try it. I will let you know!!!

  16. I first read about the Hot Brown in a Sue Grafton book and I’ve always wanted to try one. But I should have done it when I was still eating meat! Thanks for yet another temptation, Tom! 😉

  17. Norma Doiron @Explode Your Business ONLINE!

    This tie you didn’t get me, tee-hee… I had my supper BEFORE reading your article. :) That looks scrumptious but like you said, way too many calories. Thanks Tom!

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