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Published October 5, 2018. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This delicious classic race day sandwich is loaded with oven-roasted tomatoes, bacon, ham and a delicious bechamel sauce! If your family is anything like ours then you most likely have about 9 million slices of ham leftover from Easter, which is perfect for this recipe.
Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a bad thing, but there is only so much ham & bean soup and ham sandwiches with mayonnaise that one person can take, which is why this came in hand.
So if you are looking to use up all that delicious ham in the tastiest way possible then this is exactly what should be on your menu. It’s not only a great way to use up ham, but it’s also a fantastic post-Easter brunch recipe that will leave your family and guests begging for more, literally! Plus this hot brown sandwich is great for race day!
How to Make the Cheese Sauce
This is a staple food at the Kentucky Derby every year, and while there are different variations out there, I think mine takes the cake. I add a few more ingredients and procedures to the traditional recipe to help spruce it up a bit to give it a little more flavor. It all starts with the tasty cheese sauce that you pour all over the top of the sandwich at the end.
First make a roux, which consists of equal weights butter and flour. A roux is used to thicken sauces, so when I make a roux I usually make a little more than I’m supposed to because it refrigerates well and can always be used down the road a few weeks in case you want to make this hot brown at a later date. A significant element to the flavor of the sauce is the cheese, this is where you get creative.
Traditionally the sauce uses Parmesan, but I feel like I eat Parmesan like 5 nights a week because I’m Italian. If you want to you Parmesan too in this hot brown sandwich, fine, but I chose to use a combo of mozzarella and cheddar. I also appreciate the bigger shreds of cheese because it holds up better under the broiler and is less likely to burn. You could also use a classic mornay sauce as well.
Similar to the roux I usually make a little extra of this sauce because it goes amazing on vegetables, which my family also loves and I’m not about to smother the hot brown in cheese sauce. My wife is one of those I’ll have some hot brown sandwich with my sauce if you know what I mean.
Because we are right before getting into season for tomatoes I feel it wise to help concentrate the flavor in fresh tomatoes for the hot brown sandwich by slow oven roasting them to ensure they are loaded with flavor.
Simply line up some quartered Roma tomatoes skin side down on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, season with salt and pepper, drizzle on a little olive oil and throw them in the oven on 275° and forget about them for 3 hours. This process is also known as tomato confit and honestly, you should to them with peak-season tomatoes as well if you love intense flavors, but it will certainly help make your hot brown sandwich extra delicious.
How to Make the Sandwich
To further change this recipe up I am using up all that leftover Easter ham along with a fried egg on top. Seriously whenever in doubt on what to finish off a dish with, add on either bacon or an egg because as I always say fat equals flavor and just makes this that much better.
I’m telling you once you get to the center of this sandwich and the yolk breaks and oozes out all that deliciousness all over the sandwich, you will know exactly why I added it on there.
To finish it off, toast up some Texas Toast, or perhaps another favorite bread, and then add on some sliced turkey, some leftover ham slices, crispy bacon, fried egg, a few tomato confit and a few tablespoons of the cheese sauce, followed up by sprinkling on a bit more cheese.
Bake it under the broiler until the cheese begins to turn lightly brown and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes on low. Do not waste any time, eat it immediately!
This is so incredibly rich so I caution not to make too many because most likely everyone will only be able to eat just one.
The last thing I’ll say about this hot brown recipe is, feel free to get creative.
If you want to add on some roasted vegetables to this hot brown sandwich so be it if you want to use fresh instead of roasted tomatoes fine, you are only limited by your own creativity, so have fun doing it! If you are a huge sandwich fan like me as well, then be sure to check out my Chicken Bruschetta Sandwich or my Grilled Ribeye Steak Sandwich.
Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich Recipe
- 6 Roma tomatoes cut into quarters
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons of flour
- 3 cups of whole milk
- 2 cups of Shredded Mozzarella
- 2 cups of Shredded Cheddar
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 8 slices of toasted Texas toast
- 1 pound of leftover sliced spiral ham
- 1 pound of sliced turkey
- 16 slices of cooked crisp bacon
- 8 fried eggs
- chopped parsley for garnish
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 275°.
- Place the tomatoes skin side down on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and drizzle on olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 3 hours.
- In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour until combined to form a roux.
- Reserve ½ of the roux in the refrigerator.
- Whisk the milk into the leftover roux in the pot and bring to a boil to thicken, think alfredo sauce. Turn the heat to low to keep warm.
- Next, whisk in 1 ½ cups each of the shredded mozzarella and cheddar until completely combined.
- Finish the sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper and keep warm.
- Turn the broiler on to low heat.
- Place the slices of toasted Texas toast on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and evenly layer on the ham, turkey, crispy bacon, fried egg, oven roasted tomatoes and a few tablespoons of cheese sauce, followed up by adding on some of the leftover shredded cheeses.
- Broil on low for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cheese turns light brown.
- Serve hot!