Like most non-veg*ans, I like bacon. A lot. Certainly at least as much as the next guy. But like some others, I am a bit over the baconization of the foodie Internets. Bacon is strong mojo. Like a psychedelic drug, it should be used with great care and respect. You can't just use bacon for bacon's sake. Mark my words, the day the Bacon Explosion exploded all over the web was the day bacon jumped the shark.
But bacon still has and will forever have its time and place. It is, after all, one of the high holy trinity that is B, L and T. It is also a seminal ingredient in the most quintessential Kentuckian sandwich, the Hot Brown.
This open-faced sandwich, created by chef Fred Schmidt at Louisville's Brown Hotel in 1928, is not diet food. By modern standards, the Hot Brown's combination of bread, turkey, cheese sauce and bacon is a total hot mess. But hey, all things in moderation, right? If you miniaturize them down to passed hors d'oeuvre size, each wee morsel is just a palpitation compared to the full-on heart stopper of a whole one.
Mini Hot Browns
Adapted from A Love Affair with Southern Cooking: Recipes and Recollections, by Jean Anderson
24 slices party rye
1 lb deli-sliced roast turkey
4 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 large egg, well beaten *
1-1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra
1 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
4 slices bacon
Preheat the broiler with a rack 3-4 inches below.
Cook the bacon until crisp (I baked mine off in the oven on a broiler rack). Allow to cool, then chop to 1/4" pieces. Set aside.
Lay the rye slices out on cooling racks in half-sheet pans. Toast under the broiler on both sides until lightly browned. Let cool. Fold or tear slices of turkey to fit the toasts and lay on top.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Add the flour and whisk until incorporated. Pour in the milk and whisk to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Pour a small amount of the hot liquid to the egg and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce, again whisking. Do not allow the sauce to boil. Stir for one more minute. Off heat, add the cheese and whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle the sauce over the turkey on the toasts. Sprinkle bacon pieces over the top. Grate some more parm over the top of all slices. Toast under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until bubbling and browned. Serve immediately.
* I trust our locally sourced, farm-fresh eggs, but if you are concerned about salmonella please do use pasteurized eggs. The sauce may not reach the 140º necessary to ensure total elimination of the salmonella bacteria.
More Kentucky goodness:
It ain't Kentucky without some good old fashioned mutton barbecue.
Gotta have your bourbon balls. Rebecca Ruth, please.
Props to Amy for giving us this cookbook that we keep coming back to again and again.
Prudence Pennywise has a Hot Brown plate! WANT.
The Paupered Chef takes on the Louisville Courier-Journal's version.