I have been making Hot Browns for years, long before I actually went to the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, to have my first authentic Hot Brown. I think after one bite it convinced me that I wanted to move to Louisville and go there every day. It was just that good.
Nevertheless, I was settled here in Chattanooga and a move to Louisville just wasn't possible at the time, nor is it now. So I've continued making them at home to the best of my ability, trying to imitate the one that I had at the Brown Hotel.
Hot Browns are the perfect kind of sandwich — warm and gooey and messy and wonderful. It has everything you might want in a sandwich.
For a little background on the Hot Brown: It was created by the Brown Hotel's chef, Fred Schmidt, one New Year's Eve when he was working to come up with something to feed guests after a night of revelry. And man did he ever. Guests gobbled them up, and the Hot Brown became the hotel's signature dish.
This year, I plan to try making my Hot Browns a different way with my leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Rather than using an English muffin, I'm going to use sturdy sourdough bread and bake it as a casserole rather than as individual sandwiches. Preparation is easier, and serving is much simpler. I hope you'll agree that Hot Browns, whether as a sandwich or casserole, might just be God's and Chef Schmidt's gift to the sandwich kingdom.
Hot Brown Casserole
12 ounces chopped bacon
16 ounces cubed, 3/4- to 1-inch-thick-cut white bread slices
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
6 large eggs
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
6 ounces finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
10-12 ounces cooked turkey, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup diced fresh Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium until crisp, about 12 minutes; remove bacon. Reserve bacon drippings. Toss together the cubed white bread slices, melted butter, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until toasted, about 16 minutes.
Whisk together the eggs, 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and dry mustard in a large bowl. Stir in 2 ounces Parmesan, the chopped cooked turkey, cooked chopped bacon, 3 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings and bread cubes. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 11- by 7-inch baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and set, about 45 minutes, shielding with foil during last 10 minutes to prevent excess browning, if needed.
Whisk together unsalted butter and flour in a small saucepan over medium until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in remaining 1 cup milk; cook until thickened and mixture just begins to bubble, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in remaining 4 ounces Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Spoon sauce over casserole. Top with diced tomatoes, chopped parsley and remaining 1/4 cup bacon. Makes 4-6 servings.
CHRISTMAS BAKE SALE
A quick reminder to get your orders in for the Annunciation Greek Church Christmas Bake Sale. The bake sale before Thanksgiving was a fantastic success, and if you didn't order your favorite treats — baklava, spanakopita, finikia and others both sweet and savory — you have a second chance.
The Christmas Greek Bake Sale happens 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10.
For a complete list of items to add to your holiday fare, log onto annunciationgreek.org and click on the Bake Sale 2021 banner. Orders may be placed online or by calling 423-504-6735.
Hot food items also will be available inside the hall where you can pick up your orders. If you'd rather not go inside, orders may also be picked up curbside.