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Classic Hot Brown

Classic Hot Brown from the Bluegrass State

If you’re not familiar with the Hot Brown, It’s a delicious Kentucky dish– some say a variation on Welsh Rarebit, a simple entree of toasted bread smothered with a savory cheese sauce. The Commonwealth version was concocted in the 1920s by Chef Fred Schmidt of the Brown Hotel in Louisville as an alternative snack served to late night hotel customers “bored with the typical ham and eggs.”

According to the Brown Hotel, this Louisville tradition with worldwide appeal is an open-faced turkey sandwich on toasted bread covered with a rich and creamy cheese sauce, which is then broiled to bubbly golden brown perfection, topped with crispy bacon and garnished with parmesan, paprika, chopped parsley and sliced tomatoes.

Even though the original home of the Hot Brown is J Graham’s Café in the historic Brown Hotel, many other local dining establishments offer a version of the Hot Brown. Kentucky restaurants including Ramsey’s in Lexington, The Greyhound Tavern in Fort Mitchell, and Claudia Sander's Dinner House in Shelbyville all serve this uniquely Kentucky delight--try one at each location and savor the subtle differences in flavor.

Want to enjoy a Kentucky Hot Brown in the comfort of your own kitchen? Find “Legendary Hot Brown” recipe, compliments of the Brown Hotel, in our Recipes section.

Intrepid home chefs can find a medley of substitutions and suggestions in cookbooks and recipe websites. Consider using leftover Thanksgiving turkey or a different meat, making a casserole instead of individual servings, substituting cheddar cheese, adding mushrooms, sautéed diced onions or pimentos–make the Kentucky Hot Brown your own!