Spicy Hot-Browns are a feistier version of a traditional dish. Turkey on toasted bread covered with a spicy bechamel sauce for a delicious dinner.
For dinner the day after Thanksgiving, we always have Kentucky Hot-Browns. Nothing fancy, just left-over turkey piled on left-over rolls or biscuits, covered with a cheesy sauce and bacon. It doesn’t take any planning and everyone can customize theirs to exactly how they like it. Even though you can make this with turkey from the deli, we never think of making it except at Thanksgiving. Natalie has found another reason to try this all year long and we are sharing Spicy Hot-Browns for our Ten-Minute Tuesday.
What is a hot-brown:
Hot-Browns are a Southern tradition made famous at The Brown Hotel in Louisville. Typically it is turkey and a bechamel sauce served over toasted bread then topped with tomatoes and bacon. In our house they are always served the day after Thanksgiving using up leftover rolls and turkey.
This recipe, as with so many requires making a béchamel or white sauce. This is easy to master and once you have done it a time or two you will be comfortable making so many dishes. As I was explaining this to Natalie, I told her my 2-2-2 rule, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 cups of liquid. You may need a little more than 2 cups of liquid but I always start with 2. If you are making a smaller portion then decrease to 1-1-1, you get the picture. Almost all recipes use a formula close to this one. For something like a pie, you will need more flour but in most cases it’s an equal amount of butter and flour. If you just remember this, you can whip things up without a recipe.
How do you make a bechamel sauce:
To make a bechamel first start by heating up your liquid just a bit in the microwave. If you add in cold liquid, it slows the process down. Next, heat the butter in a skillet and add flour cooking for about a minute, whisking constantly. Then, slowly add the liquid, whisking until it’s incorporated. If you add it all at one time, you will have lumps and it will take a long time. So be patient and just add a bit at a time. Continue to cook until you have the thickness you are looking for.
For Spicy Hot-Browns, I added onion and garlic to the butter, while that is cooking you can grate the cheese and chop the other ingredients and layer the turkey on slightly toasted french rolls, biscuits, toast or whatever bread you want to use. Once the onions are soft, make the bechamel sauce in the same skillet and add some seasong. Pour the sauce over the rolls and sprinkle with bacon. Place them under the broiler just until they are slightly brown and bubbly.
You can make these as spicy as you want depending on how much of the jalapeño you add. If you want it mild, remove all the seeds and stems. Unlike a traditional hot-brown, the sauce has so much flavor from cilantro, peppers, onion and garlic that transforms this dish.
Now you have a recipe to pull out when you have left-over turkey, but don’t wait until Thanksgiving. Grab some turkey at the deli or use rotisserie chicken and enjoy this all year round.
When I’m in a hurry, I’ll just use french rolls from the grocery, but if you have a few more minutes try these ideas for the base:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 ounces white cheddar cheese grated
- 4 ounces pepper jack cheese grated
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 1 jalapeno chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 4 French rolls
- 6 ounces turkey slices
- 3 slices bacon cooked and chopped
- Heat a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add onion. cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add flour and whisk for about a minute. Slowly add warmed half-and-half a little at a time whisking until it is smooth before adding more cream. Once all has been added, bring to a boil and then turn down to low, whisking until it thickens. Add cheese a handful at a time.
- Add cilantro, jalapeno, cumin, cayenne and salt to taste.
- Slice rolls in half horizontally and place under broiler for 30 seconds until slightly toasted. Place toasted rolls in a baking dish and place turkey slices on each roll. Pour cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with chopped bacon. Place back under the broiler until the sauce starts to bubble and the tops turn slightly brown. Serve with guacamole.