Recipe of the week: Kentucky Hot Brown with a kick

Admit it. You’re already daydreaming about Thanksgiving leftovers.

If you’re like me, your thought bubble is pondering bread options for that next-day turkey sandwich. (Crusty sourdough for me, thanks.) 

For those who crave something a little more decadent, here’s hot, bubbly option: a twist on a traditional Kentucky Hot Brown, the sandwich with Louisville roots

Here’s a recipe that contains all kinds of naughty, from heavy cream to applewood-smoked bacon to Manchego cheese. I found it in the 2015 book “Southern Heat” (The Taunton Press), by James Beard Best Chef nominee Anthony Lamas and food writer Gwen Pratesi. 

The twist? The Mornay sauce – which is made with Manchego cheese instead of the traditional Gruyére – carries enough jalapeño heat to zap you out of your post-Thanksgiving stupor. 



The following recipe is adapted from the book “Southern Heat: New Southern Cooking Latin Style” (The Taunton Press, 2015).

Kentucky Hot Brown with Manchego-Jalapeño Sauce

Serves 6 

For the Manchego-Jalapeño Mornay Sauce: 

  • 4 cups heavy cream 
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 2 jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed, 1 cut into ¼-inch dice and the other sliced, for garnish 
  • 2 cups grated Manchego cheese 

For the Hot Browns: 

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for the dishes 
  • 12 slices French bread or Texas Toast, toasted and crusts removed 
  • 1½ pounds roasted and sliced turkey breast 
  • 12 strips Benton’s bacon or applewood-smoked bacon, cooked 
  • 12 to 18 slices heirloom tomatoes, lightly salted 
  • Grated Manchego cheese, for topping 

The Hot Brown has been named one of the "South's Best Sandwiches" by @southernlivingmag!

A post shared by The Brown Hotel (@brownhotel) on

Make the Hot Browns:

  1. Position a rack in the center of a convection oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, warm the heavy cream with the nutmeg, white pepper, and salt over medium heat just until the mixture has bubbles around the edges of the pan but it is not boiling. Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour, stirring or whisking constantly to make a blonde roux; cook for two minutes to cook out the flour taste. 
  3. Slowly add the warm cream to the roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps and until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add the diced jalapeños and cheese and whisk until the cheese has melted and everything is blended. Adjust the seasonings. Keep warm. 
  4. Each Hot Brown will be assembled and cooked in an individual greased oval casserole dish. Assembling one serving at a time, place two slices of toast on the bottom of the dish. Top each with sliced turkey and then ¾ cup Manchego-Jalapeño Mornay Sauce. Place the bacon slices on top, add the tomatoes, and top with grated Manchego. Place the dish in the oven and cook until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted, about five minutes. 

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