A Hot Brown Sandwich (sometimes known as a Louisville or Kentucky Hot Brown) is an American hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. It is a variation of traditional Welsh rarebit and 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 turkey 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.
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 dish is a local specialty and favorite of the Louisville area, and is popular throughout Kentucky. It was long unavailable at its point of origin, as the Brown Hotel was shut down from 1971 to 1985.
On the Food Network, the Hot Brown was featured in an episode of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Joe and John Castro, chefs of the Brown Hotel in Kentucky, competed and won against Flay in a cook-off. It has also been featured on episodes of the network's shows The Rachel Ray Show and Southern Fried Road Trip. On the Travel Channel, the Hot Brown has been featured on the show Taste of America with Mark DeCarlo as well as a Louisville-themed episode of Man v. Food Nation.
On PBS, the Hot Brown has been featured in the documentary Sandwiches That You Will Like as well as the program The Mind of a Chef, where Chef David Chang presented his interpretation of the sandwich.