Kentucky Hot Brown

Recipe by Nancy Johnson Wine Commentary by Gary Twining

An open-faced turkey sandwich, rich with Mornay sauce and garnished with bacon, this down-home dish originated at Louisville’s elegant Brown Hotel in 1926. This is my version of the legendary dish. It’s a great way to use up leftover turkey, but I’ve also made a less-than- authentic version with roasted chicken. (Shhhhh! Don’t tell the chefs at the Brown.)

2 TBS butter

2 TBS flour

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb roasted turkey breast, thickly sliced and warmed in oven or microwave

4 slices Texas toast, lightly toasted and crusts trimmed

1 large tomato, sliced

8 slices bacon, cooked

Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat broiler. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Whisk in flour to form a roux. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in heavy cream and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cheese until smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Place toasts on rimmed baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Layer each with turkey breast. Top each sandwich with one or two tomato slices. Pour sauce over sandwiches, making sure sandwiches are completely covered. Sprinkle with additional Romano cheese. Broil until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 1 minute. Remove from broiler; criss-cross two pieces of bacon on top of each sandwich. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4.

Gary: The creamy cheese sauce adds to the richness of this dish while the bacon adds flavor interest and salt. Since poultry is relatively mild you can pair with a crisp white to cleanse the palate of the Mornay sauce and bring out the flavor and salt in the bacon. Crisp wines with texture would include a bright Verdejo/Sauvignon Blanc, white Bordeaux blend, Greco di Tufo, white Southern Rhone blend, unoaked Chardonnay/Mâcon/Pouilly-Fuissé or a richly-flavored dry sparkler.

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