Hello all! As I write this, it is a wonderful late April day in Kentucky which means we all have one thing on our minds; Derby Time.
The Kentucky Derby is a wonderful tradition that runs deep in most Kentuckian’s blood. A quick guide for those of you out of the loop, the Derby is a horse race that is held once a year in Louisville, KY at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. It is the most anticipated horse race of the year, and is kind of a big deal in the Bluegrass State.
Why? There’s something in it for everyone! Fashion, mint juleps, hats, men in pastel pants, bourbon and food.
Let’s talk about Hot Browns, y'all.
Much like the Derby, a Louisville tradition is the Hot Brown – originally served up by the Brown Hotel in the downtown area. It’s a warm, open-faced sandwich with turkey, toast, tomatoes, cheese sauce, bacon and a little bit of heaven in it. I had never actually had one until last month when my friend and I headed to Louisville specifically to try one for the Brown Hotel, which still serves them up today.
Holy moly. It was divine. I had to share this with my friends, my family, strangers on the streets, you people; everyone.
But how to make this Kentucky tradition shareable?
I am a party planner, and so most of the recipes I know are made to serve a group. For this Derby season, I set out to make this Louisville classic shareable. And since I am also trying to run my own business and wear all the hats associated with that (extra time is scarce), I needed this to be a semi-homemade style recipe made in a single dish.
I do have to warn you; this is not a healthier version of a hot brown. Although I follow a mindful lifestyle, I lack the culinary skills to convert such a deeply southern dish into a lighter alternative. I do encourage you to choose organic and responsibly sourced ingredients when possible, though! Grab up organic tomatoes, locally sourced meat and possibly a roll alternative from your farmer’s market.
You can tweak this recipe here and there to fit your taste and capacity, but I highly suggest you not skip over or trade out the sauce portion. It is very simple, and is such a key component in the signature taste of the dish. Melted cheese just won’t do, I’m afraid.
If you dig the pottery featured in this setup, all work is part of our Kitchen + Table Collection (glaze combo has now been discontinued) that is available in-store at our studio in Winchester, KY. We are currently working on making this extended line readily available online, but we can do special orders for purchases now upon request. Browse through other photos of what we currently have in stock here.
Try out your hand at the Hot Brown Sliders and let me know what you think! Feel free to pass it along to someone you know who is hosting or attending a Derby Party this year. Or, you know, just make a batch and each them yourself. No judging here.