The Brown Hotel
| May 1, 2015

The most exciting two minutes in sports is happening this weekend — so how will you be satisfying your appetite as you place your bets?

The Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich featuring crispy bacon, roasted turkey and rich Mornay sauce on thick Texas toast, made its debut at Louisville's Brown Hotel during the 1920s, when over 1,200 guests attending a dinner dance were looking for something to eat aside from the usual ham and eggs.

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It was then that chef Fred Schmidt created the iconic sandwich, which has since become a Kentucky Derby favorite (along with mint juleps, of course).

Nowadays, there are several variations of the Hot Brown on menus around Louisville, but there's no beating the original recipe below. Enjoy!

The Brown Hotel's Famous 'Hot Brown' Recipe for Kentucky Derby Day

2 sandwiches


  • 2 oz. whole butter
  • 2 oz. all purpose flour
  • 16 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast
  • 2 slices of Texas toast (crusts trimmed)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 4 slices crispy cooked bacon
  • Paprika
  • Parsley


  1. In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste, or roux. Continue to cook the roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until simmering, about 2–3 minutes.
  3. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese to make a Mornay sauce. Whisk until smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place each slice of toast in its own oven-safe dish and top with half the turkey (about 7 oz.).
  5. Take the quartered Roma tomato slices and place them alongside the base of turkey and toast in each oven-safe dish.
  6. Pour one half the Mornay sauce over the top of each sandwich; the turkey and bread should be completely covered.
  7. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese sauce begins to brown and bubble.
  8. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon over the top, and sprinkle with paprika, parsley, and the remaining tablespoon of Pecorino Romano cheese. Serve immediately.