The Turkey Sandwich You'd Have To Travel To Kentucky For

For many, a turkey sandwich is a quintessential, customary lunch. It is the beacon of lunchtime convenience: high in protein and flavor, simple but not basic, and endlessly customizable. Not a mayonnaise person? Slather it with mustard. Bored by white bread? Try out ciabatta. Not a fan of lettuce? Spread some guacamole on the top half. Not wild about turkey but love cheese? Double up on the provolone or cheddar and add just a slice or two of turkey. Clearly, there is no shortage of options when it comes to turkey sandwiches.

Beyond the lunchtime classic, the simplicity of turkey sandwiches belies their versatility, which can truly run the gamut. In Kentucky, one particular turkey sandwich dish became an uber-popular go-to after nights of revelry (via the Brown Hotel). Many would flock to a particular Louisville hotel in order to feast on the sandwich. Read ahead to learn all about this special dish. 

All about the Kentucky Hot Brown

Called the Hot Brown or the "Kentucky Hot Brown," this indulgent dish was a surefire hangover helper. According to The Brown Hotel where the sandwich originated, the Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich served with bacon, cheese, and a Mornay sauce. According to the Recipe, the sandwich is often baked. Some variations involve other ingredients such as mushrooms, tomatoes, or hard-boiled eggs. 

Once featured in a challenge in "Top Chef: Kentucky" (via On3), the dish is endlessly malleable and customizable. According to the Brown Hotel, it was developed in the 1920s at the Louisville establishment. The dish was often served to the partygoers looking for a place to eat. The most important components of the dish are the turkey (of course), as well as the cheese sauce (often Mornay) and the bread (typically something thick, like Texas toast or Pullman's loaf). The crisp bread, the browned sauce, and the tender turkey provide an amazing contrast of flavors and textures, with the heavy richness providing a carb-laden meal that can help soak up all that excess liquor. 

The nitty gritty of the Hot Brown

According to Eater, the Kentucky Hot Brown resembles both the Welsh rarebit and the croque-monsieur. According to the outlet, the crust is often removed from the bread before the dish is assembled and broiled. It is then usually finished with Pecorino, parsley, and paprika. As noted by the Brown Hotel, the moniker hails from the name of the hotel, of course. Fred Schmidt was reportedly the head chef who invented the now-cherished sandwich on a brisk night in order to warm and fatten up the bar-goers before they left the building and braved the cold, according to Eater. While the tomato and bacon are requisite now, the original may not have contained those components. 

If you're interested, the hotel website actually posted a recipe, and you can still order the famous sandwich if you were to visit the hotel itself. According to Eater, the Brown hotel sells 1,000 Hot Browns per week and even more during the Kentucky Derby weekend

No matter if you're making the dish at home, enjoying it at another restaurant, or actually enjoying it in the Brown Hotel restaurant dining room, one thing is for sure –– the Hot Brown is a stellar sandwich.