Before I moved to Lexington, 9 years ago, I had never heard of a hot brown. These are a Western and central Kentucky specialty. I don't think you'll find them anywhere else. A hot brown is a very rich open faced turkey sandwich drenched in a bubbly creamy white sauce and smothered in cheese. It is often topped with tomato and bacon. Due to the cream, cheese, and bacon, most people consider them a "heart attack waiting to happen." I think that I may be the first person to ever identify the diet potential in this dish!
History of the hot brown sandwich from The Brown Hotel:
In 1923, The Brown Hotel drew over 1200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. In the "wee" hours of the morning, the guests would grow tired of dancing and retire to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Guests were growing rapidly tired of the traditional ham and eggs, so Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. Thus, the Hot Brown was born, an open-face turkey sandwich with bacon, pimento, and a delicate mornay sauce. Who could have guessed that this chef's dedication to service would start such an enduring and well-loved Louisville tradition… the Hot Brown.
I have made only a few changes to the traditional hot brown to make it carb friendly. The original recipe called for a roux made of butter and flour plus milk and heavy whipping cream. I have replaced this with a mixture of Hood Calorie Countdown and cream cheese. The cream cheese thickens sufficiently. If you don't have Hood, you may use milk but this will add additional carbohydrates and calories. Use any of your favorite diet sandwich breads. There are many different brands of diet bread out there. They are usually labeled as being low calorie. Read the labels and choose a bread that has very few carbs. My favorite low carb sandwich bread has 11 net carbs per 2 slices. Some people remove the crusts from the bread. I leave it on. I have no idea how many carbs would be in the crust. Also, a hot brown is typically cooked in, served in, and eaten out of the baking dish.
Makes 4 Servings.
4 Slices of diet bread (22 net carbs)
4 oz. cream cheese (4 net carbs)
1 c. Hood calorie countdown (3 net carbs) or Whole Milk (11 net carbs)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
1 c. cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. sliced turkey
4 thin slices tomato (2.4 net carbs)
8 slices bacon
4 T. Parmesan cheese
Put Hood or milk, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in sauce pan over medium-low heat. Once melted, whisk vigorously until smooth. Simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast bread and arrange in baking dishes. Top with turkey and tomato slice.
Put cheddar cheese into your sauce. Stir just enough to mix then pour over sandwiches. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.
Broil on top rack of oven until to is hot and brown. Remove from oven and top with 2 slices of bacon crossed over each sandwich.