One of my favorite parts of about Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, I hesitate to admit, is the second day of leftovers. The day-of meal is delicious and abundant, of course, and leftovers the day after are just as tasty. But day three is when I start thinking about good old “Hot Brown,” a tradition in my family and many others in the Kentucky-Indiana area of the United States.
Here’s what you do. Take several pieces of toast and put them on a cookie sheet or broiler pan lined with foil. Place slices of turkey on each piece of toast, followed by slices of crisp bacon and sliced tomatoes. On top of each open faced sandwich, pour (I should say, heavily drizzle) a sauce Mornay over it all, sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown on top. It’s not a fancy meal, nor does it sound very gourmet, but my mouth waters just writing about it – it’s that good!
No, I did not make up this recipe. It’s actually a famous recipe dating back to 1926, created by J. Graham’s Café in The Brown Hotel (Louisville, Kentucky). It has its holiday tradition within my family, simply because we didn’t often have turkey at other times of the year, but it’s a staple on the Café menu now for locals to enjoy all year round.
We actually don’t follow their recipe exactly. We skip the tomatoes and the extra parmesan cheese, and our cheese sauce isn’t quite as fancy as the restaurant’s, but I say be creative with your leftovers and add whatever suits!
Not meaning to insult the accomplished cooks out there, let me briefly explain the sauces. The restaurant uses a Mornay sauce, which is a Bechamel sauce with added cheese. A Bechamel sauce is made by whisking scalded milk gradually into a white flour-butter roux. Our basic version? Melt 5 tablespoons of butter and mix with 5 tablespoons of flour. When combined well, add 2 cups of milk and stir until thickened. Add about a cup of shredded cheese and stir until melted. You can add or subtract any ingredients to taste. Turkey never tasted so good!