Hot Brown Casserole ala Bahbah (That’s Me!)

Here in Louisville, Kentucky, it’s Kentucky Derby week. Hubs and I are catering a Derby party next weekend, so last night we tested and perfected one of my new favorite dishes, The Hot Brown Casserole.

For those who are not from here, The Kentucky Hot Brown is a famous dish born long ago at Louisville’s historical “Brown Hotel”. (Google it, if you are interested.)

I confess that I have not been a fan of this dish in the past. I think when it was originally made by it’s Chef creator, it was probably delicious. Every rendition I have ever had, however, has left me feeling like something was missing or “watered down”. For this dish to be truly great, one really needs not to skimp on or take short cuts on the ingredients. This means taking the time to grate your own cheese, bake a fresh turkey breast (or a whole bird if you wish), seek out the best thick bread slices and seasonings!

Hot Brown Casserole ala Bahbah

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices thick bread, toasted (I used Texas toast)
  • 2 lbs turkey thinly sliced
  • 8 slices bacon crumbled (I used Wilson’s thick cut BBQ)
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1/4 cup butter (real full fat butter!)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Lots of freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (I used Bourbon smoked)
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly diced tomato
  • 2 teaspoons freshly minced parsley

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, whisk in flour and let the flour cook about two minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk and cream. Stir 6-8 minutes until it lightly boils and becomes thick. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, beat the egg then whisk in 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sauce. Return to pan whisking constantly. Add in 1/2 the cheese, salt and pepper and keep whisking until incorporated. Add in 1/2 the remaining cheese & repeat. Return to the heat, but Do NOT BOIL. IMPORTANT: Taste this until you get the desired cheesiness /creaminess. Also, If it gets too thick, add more cream, but remember to season again if you do. Remove from heat.

Grease a 9 x 13″ casserole dish. I pre-slice the toast on the diagonal, then arrange it in the bottom of the pan. Layer the turkey slices over the toast, sprinkle some of the tomatoes and the bacon over the turkey, salt and pepper, add the sauce all over. Sprinkle with Paprika, bacon crumbles and the remaining cheese.

Bake 20-25 minutes uncovered.

Top with freshly chopped tomatoes and parsley.

Enjoy!