Hangover Helper, Thanksgiving Leftovers Edition: Kentucky Hot Browns
The only bet I've ever won was at a Derby Day party hosted by Slice Editor Meredith Smith. The starting pistol went off just as I started on my third mint julep and Mine The Bird sprinted over the finish line before I'd even made it to my fourth, paying out 50 to 1 odds and suddenly making me $49 richer for it.
It's one-game winning streaks like this that make me think it might be fun to be a bit more of a betting man, and if I was, I'd put double or nothing on this one: despite prohibition, Fred Schmidt, the Chef at the Brown Hotel in Louisville Kentucky in the 1920's knew where to get whiskey. Nothing else could explain how he came up with the mother of Hangover Helpers that is The Hot Brown.
The fact that it happens to be made from roast turkey and that—at least at the López-Alt household—Thanksgiving is a day about giving thanks for all the wonderful family you have then drinking copiously to try and deal with them makes the Kentucky Hot Brown the perfect morning-after meal.
The Hot Brown is ostensibly an open-faced sandwich—it starts with a piece of toasted bread (the original recipe calls for Texas Toast) and gets topped with sliced roasted turkey. But from there it leaps directly into Hangover Helper territory when a precisely measured volume (known as a morethanyoucouldreasonablyhopetoneed) of cheesy, creamy Mornay sauce is poured over the top and the whole thing is placed under the broiler to bake until bubbly.
I've been told by no less than two Kentuckians that if the edges of the plate do not look like this when it comes out of the broiler, you're doing it wrong:
Once out of the oven, a couple slices of crispy bacon are placed on top, just to remind you that buried underneath that cheese is some turkey and toast. X marks the spot, and all that.
The most traditional recipe calls for a couple slices of tomato to be added, but who in their right mind has tomatoes in their kitchen in the middle of November? I skip the tomatoes and go straight for the paprika and parsley.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.