Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mr. Hawthorne Makes Kentucky Hot Browns.

Care to take a guess as to what this is?
A couple of weekends ago, Mr. Hawthorne and I took a little road trip. He went to see his family since it was his twin sisters' birthdays, and I went to visit with Maxine and be taken care of. Thanks again, Max. We finally regrouped on Sunday morning for the trip back home. Our trips are filled with the minutiae of our separate weekends. Usually this doesn't go far beyond, Whajeet? (That's Southern for "What did you eat?") We had a hankering for some breakfast and our only options are BurgerKing and McDonald's in Yanceyville. We split a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit combo with hash browns, orange juice, and teawithextralemon. I don't do my usual cheery and perky, Five pieces of lemon please! After all, this is BurgerKing. I think I know the bar. As usual, while eating one meal, we are discussing our next one. Mr. Hawthorne and I do this all the time. The Mister and Me figger we'll get to Plymouth at a good time for lunch at the China Buffet. I generally abhor a buffet, but when I'm jonesin' for for some pretty good and consistent Chinese and we're on a road trip we always stop at China Buffet. We sit down and eat, and for some reason, I'm not fond of my meal today. Say what you will, but I was not in the mood for Chinese. Most anytime you say, "Let's get Chinese," I'm already in the car. Don't know what happened Sunday. So, during lunch, we're thinking about what's for dinner. And Mr. Hawthorne tells me he wants to make something for me. I am intrigued. Mr. Hawthorne explains that he was watching Food Network this weekend with his mother. Booby Flay was doing another throw-down. Generally, I won't watch these unless there's a set of stairs involved, but I digress. Mr. Hawthorne describes the dish to me: It's cooked sliced turkey breast on top of French Toast, with a roux and cream and cheese and nutmeg sauce, and tomatoes and bacon and it goes back in the oven. I have to admit, we were both skeptical. I was trying to wrap my brain around these combinations because it was different. I think it was the French toast that was throwing me. But we were also curious. And if curiosity doesn't kill you, you just might find out some real neat shit. For the record, here's Bobby's recipe for Kentucky Hot Browns. Mr. Hawthorne winged it from memory and experience.
After showing you what Mr. Hawthorne did, what with a lot of steps left out because I had a phone call I had to take and Mr. Hawthorne was on a mission and wouldn't wait for me to get back OR take pictures of what he was doing, I'll tell you some of the history of Kentucky Hot Browns.
First, we procured a turkey breast. We were at Harris Teeter and the only bosoms were frozen and the package said it had Cajun seasonings. Three pounds for $9.95. Fie. Mr. Hawthorne washed off the Cajun spices.
It came in its own little mesh which you leave on during cooking. It holds the meat together. Mr. Hawthorne baked the turkey breast to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, removed it from the oven, covered it with foil and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
I discarded the turkey gravy packet.

First, Mr. Hawthorne fried up some bacon.
And here, he's starting with the bacon drippings to which he will add some butter and flour to make a roux. Then he added in cream, and cheeses, and a bit of nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Cheddar cheese, Mozzarella cheese, thick slices of a white loaf from FL bakery, and 'maters.
Mr. Hawthorne whupped about 3 eggs and let the bread slices soak them up.

He sizzled some butter in his pan and added in the bread.
Nicely browned.
This is looking really good.
Damn phone call! When I came back, Mr. Hawthorne had it all ready to go in the oven. He'd made the roux WITHOUT me there to record it. Whacha do is melt 3 TB butter, whisk in 3 TB flour, cook for about a minute, pour in heavy cream, whisking constantly, enough so the sauce is thick, add in grated cheeses, grate some fresh nutmeg in, do some freshly grated s & p.
French toast on the bottom, then sliced turkey. Mr. Hawthorne topped with sauce and tomato slices and more sauce.
Topped with bacon.
And back into the oven. Until the sauce is bubbly and slightly brown.
May I present to you, Kentucky Hot Browns! And who's been keeping this a secret for so long?
Why have I never heard of this?
Different cultural pockets are protecting their cuisines.
Tender, juicy turkey. Soakin' up the mojo of the roux and cream and cheese and nutmeg sauce. Along with the French Toast suckin' the sauce. Tomatoes languishing atop. Bacon. Bacon. And did I mention bacon? What can I say? I liked this. It was unusual. It was good. It was ... different.
Now, on to the history of the Kentucky Hot Browns.
Chef Fred K. Schmidt at the Camberley Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, created the Hot Brown sandwich in 1926. Back in the 20's, the Brown Hotel drew over 1200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. When the band took a break about midnight, the guests would retire to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Bored with the usual ham and eggs, Chef Schmidt created the Hot Brown and it's been a hit ever since.


Kathy said...

I've seen these being made on FN before, drooling the whole time. Never made one though, although I dare say BS would suck it right down in one big happy gulp. Mebbe I'll give it a try too.

Phyllis said...

Poor, poor on earth have you made it through all your years of culinary advertures without tasting the legendary Kentucky Hot Brown? Being a Kentucky girl by birth, no matter that we moved away by the time I was five, my Bluegrass roots run deep. We made our Hot Browns with country ham (trust me, it's worth it) and on toasted Fench bread, not French toast (that's a new one for me). Also, we only used swiss cheese in the sauce, a true Mornay sauce. Occassionally, we'd add a dollop of sherry to the sauce for some kick. Haven't made a Hot Brown in YEARS, but you've given me a hankerin' for one. Glad you've discovered a true KY classic--the Derby is right around the corner and these go great with Mint Juleps!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Phyllis, I'd never heard of a Kentucky Hot Brown before Mr. Hawthorne mentioned seeing this and wanted to recreate it. Actually, he just described it to me. He didn't know what it was called until I did some Food Network Throw Down research. At the time, he didn't have Bobby's recipe, or any recipe for that matter, and was making it from memory, and as you know, his memory ain't what it used to be.

Kathy and Phyllis both - thanks for commenting, because I love knowing I might have inspired someone to get in the kitchen and cook! A hankerin' is good too.
I'll settle for a hankerin'.

dle1004 said...

Such timing...I just so happen to have cooked a turkey breast last night!!!