I like a deal as much as the next girl, but getting up in the middle of the night to stand in line in the cold is SO not my thing. My mom and I did manage to get to the mall by about 9 a.m. yesterday (which is very early for us), since some of our favorite stores were having specials that only lasted until 10 or 11 a.m…. but most of those stores were completely insane, with a zillion people shoving to get to the few racks of sale items that weren’t that great at full price and are only slightly more interesting at 50 percent off of 50 percent off.
Ugh. Luckily, most of the crazy people were gone by about 11:30, so we were able to continue shopping without having to throw elbows. My mom did somehow manage to hook a hanger she was carrying into the sleeve of a guy’s sweater when he was walking by… but I maintain that was his fault. And they managed to rectify the situation with little harm to the cableknit.
Anyway, all that shopping can make you hungry. Plus, we had a problem some of you might be dealing with: leftover turkey. Luckily, Bobby Flay had a solution to both our problems: Kentucky hot browns.
Though I am married to a hot Kentucky boy, I have never had a Kentucky hot brown. Apparently this open-faced sandwich was created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in the 1920s. Toby says he generally thinks of hot browns as a greasy-spoon diner dish, and this one is a little classier than he remembers. The process is definitely a lot more involved than a turkey-cranberry sandwich, but we all really enjoyed them.
At this point, you can probably tell that this is not exactly a low-fat, low-calorie post-Thanksgiving option. In fact, it continues a theme my mom and I discovered when we were making his pumpkin bread pudding (recipe to come) and sweet potato gratin: Bobby Flay is trying to kill us.
I mean, clearly his recipes are good. Toby and I were watching the end of an Iron Chef Thanksgiving special the other night, and when the judges tasted something he and Michael Symon had made, they said something like, “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted.” When the camera panned over to Bobby Flay, he was making a face that said, “Of COURSE it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Don’t you know who I am? I’m Bobby Flay!”
Based on most of the recipes we’ve made from his Bar Americain cookbook, it appears the reason his food is so good that there is a metric ton of butter and cream in every bite. Maybe he’s been hanging around Paula Deen too long.
Oh well. At least death-by-Flay is delicious. Plus, turkey trots, shoving crazed shoppers out of your personal space, cheering for Georgia and decorating the Christmas tree(s) burns a few calories, right?
Kentucky hot browns (Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook, serves 4-6)
Cooked turkey (at least enough for 1 1/2 to 2 slices of turkey per slice of bread)
3 1/2 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 pound (3 1/2 cups) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
4 large eggs
4-8 slices day-old sandwich bread (white is fine – we used cherry-walnut)
2 tablespoons canola oil
8-16 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
salt and pepper
Place 2 cups whole milk in a small saucepan and heat on low until small bubbles begin to appear around the sides of the pan. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat and whisk in flour. Cook for one minute, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce is thick — 4 or 5 minutes. Add more milk if the sauce gets too thick.
Remove sauce from the heat and whisk in 2 cups of the cheddar and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese until the cheddar has melted. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm.
Preheat the broiler.
In a medium bowl or baking dish, whisk the eggs and 1 1/2 cups milk together and season with salt and pepper (and more nutmeg, if desired). Dip each slice of bread in the mixture and let sit for about 10 seconds, then flip and make sure bread is soaked through (but don’t leave it in there for more than about a minute, or it will get really soggy).
Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and cook 2 slices of soaked bread at a time, about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining butter, oil and bread.
Slice tomatoes about 1/2-inch thick.
Place the bread slices on a baking sheet (or two) and top each with 1 1/2 to 3 slices of turkey. Spoon cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle some unmelted cheddar and parmesan over each slice. Place a tomato slice or two on top of that, then put baking sheet(s) under the broiler and cook for a few minutes — until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Make sure you watch the sandwiches carefully so they don’t burn.
Remove baking sheets from oven and top each open-faced sandwich with two slices of bacon. Serve immediately.
Note: Depending on how many hot browns you make, you may have cheese sauce left over. I recommend saving it to add to some cooked vegetables (like broccoli or cauliflower) later.