Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kentucky Derby, Mint Julep, Hot Brown, and Bobby Flay

Going to the Kentucky Derby and drinking mint juleps has always been on my bucket list. I've never actually made it to the derby, I have made it to Arlington Park race track in Illinois. Going to the track is a great way to spend the day, catch some ray's, and possibly win a couple of races if you're lucky. I will settle for breaking even.
Recently, while searching Bobby Flay on YouTube, I came across an episode where Bobby was challenging the Castro brother's to a "Kentucky Hot Brown" Throwdown. After watching this episode, I knew I just had to make the Hot Brown. If you would like to see this episode, head over to YouTube, or click on this link:
The Hot Brown apparently originated at the Brown Hotel in Louisville Kentucky in the 1920's. I went right to the source to try and get the original recipe. Just as I thought they published the recipe on their website.
Since I love turkey and the Kentucky Derby is May 2, I thought this would make a great post for May. You're going to need a few things to make the Hot Brown.
1-1/2 tablespoons salted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper 
sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
4 slices of Texas toast, crust removed
4 slices of bacon
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
Arrange bread triangles in pan and tomato halves
Note: What ever you do, don't use sliced deli turkey for this recipe. If you don't want cook a whole turkey, just buy a breast and cook it. I like a lot of tomatoes and added more. If after making the Hot Browns you have more left-over turkey, make some Turkey a la King, or a Turkey Pot Pie. You can also try other cheeses if you like. If I ever make this again, I would cut out 1 cup of heavy cream and use 1 cup of chicken stock in it's place.
To make the Hot Brown you're going to practice your sauce making skills, and prepare a Mornay sauce, which is nothing more than a Béchamel sauce (a Mother sauce), with cheese added to it. Once you've mastered the Béchamel sauce, you will be ready to impressing your family and friends with your culinary skills (see alternate sauce at the end.)
Pour sauce over turkey
Melt the butter in a two-quart saucepan. Once melted, slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 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 nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
After a visit in the broiler
For each Hot Brown, place layers of bread in an oven safe dish and cover with turkey slices. Place the tomato halves next to the turkey. Pour half of the sauce over the bread, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from the broiler and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.
Alternate sauce: To make the Mornay sauce, using a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Stir for another minute to remove the starch taste. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the cream and chicken stock. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, while stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and stir until the mixture thickens. Stir in cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Season to your taste.
Turkey a la King
The Hot Brown reminded me of the 60's classics like Chipped Beef on Toast (SOS), Eggs a la Goldenrod, Turkey a la King, or the classic Welsh Rarebit.
If you're not a turkey lover you can pick up a rotisserie, or baked chicken.  Another use of left-over beef, chicken or turkey was the classic open-faced sandwich, served with left-over mashed potatoes, smothered in rich gravy.
Open-faced sandwich
The recipe called for "Texas toast" for the Hot Brown. I decided to get a loaf of bread from the local bakery and cut it myself. What I should have done was get a loaf of real Texas toast which is a softer bread. Mine was much heavier than it should have been because of the bread. 
After WWII nothing was wasted. In our family, we ate left-overs. If you've got a minute and this reminds you of any of your family favorites leave a comment below.