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One version of the Hot Brown featuring shredded Parmesan cheese, melted American cheese, and tomatoes from Kurtz Restaurant in Bardstown, Kentucky.


A Hot Brown is a hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentuckymarker, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. It was one of two signature sandwiches created by chefs at the Brown Hotel shortly after its founding in 1923. It was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers.

The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkeymarker and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. Many Hot Browns also include ham with the turkey, and either pimentos or tomatoes over the sauce, and imitation Hot Browns sometimes substitute a commercial cheese sauce instead of the Mornay sauce, but fans of the dish usually decry this substitution. Some restaurants even offer a 'veggie brown' nowadays to attract vegetarians, as the recipe is easy to modify with avocado, or, less commonly, soy burger.

More common alternatives to the Hot Brown include using cheddar cheese or American cheese for the sauce. Alternatives for garnishes include tomatoes, mushroom slices, and, very rarely, canned peaches.

When Fred K. Schmidt created the Hot Brown, its sliced roast turkey was a rarity, as turkey was usually reserved for holiday feasts. The original Hot Brown included the sliced turkey on an open-faced white toast sandwich, with Mornay sauce covering it, with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, completed by being oven-broiled until bubbly. Pimento and bacon strips were then added to it. After its debut, it quickly became the choice of ninety-five percent of the customers to the Brown Hotel's restaurant.

The "cold brown" was baked poultry (varied between chicken and turkey), hard-boiled egg, lettuce and tomato open-faced on rye bread, and covered with Thousand Island dressing. It is rarely served anymore.

The dish is a local specialty and favorite of the Louisville area, and is popular throughout Kentucky. It was briefly unavailable at its point of origin, as the Brown Hotel was shut down from 1971 to 1985.

On menus within the Louisville area, the Hot Brown often appears as titled "Louisville Hot Brown", elsewhere in Kentucky outside Louisville as the "Kentucky Hot Brown" and outside the commonwealth simply as "Hot Brown."

The Hot Brown has been seen in an episode of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay on the Food Network. Joe and John Castro, Hot Brown chefs of the Brown Hotel in Kentucky, competed with Flay in a cook-off of Hot Browns. The natives of Kentucky came through and won the challenge of this indigenous dish. The Hot Brown was also featured on the Travel Channel network show Taste of America with Mark DeCarlo and the PBS documentary Sandwiches That You Will Like. The Hot Brown was featured on NBC's The Today Show, where "Top Chef" champion Hosea Rosenberg erroneously ascribes the origin of the sandwich's name to it being, "hot and bubbly brown."

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