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Monday, June 14, 2010

Asparagus Hot Brown Recipe

Asparagus Hot Brown
When I was in Louisville Kentucky a couple of weeks ago I tried the famous Hot Brown sandwich at the Brown Hotel. It's a rich combination of dreamy Mornay sauce, hearty turkey, a couple of tomato wedges and crisp bacon on top. Broiling the sandwich makes the tomatoes and sauce even tastier. But it's a monster! I really don't know how anyone can finish it. If you go to Louisville, by all means do try it. If you don't have an enormous appetite, you can order a smaller portion of the Hot Brown. It's not on the menu but it is available upon request.

All over Kentucky you will find different versions of the Hot Brown. Some have ham instead of turkey or a combination of both, or seafood and no turkey or ham. When I got home I decided I would try my hand at making a slightly lighter version of this delectable sandwich. But I figured why not try it with asparagus? After all, asparagus and cheese sauce is already pretty tasty. While I love Mornay sauce, I rarely have heavy cream on hand so I made a simpler cheese sauce. I kept the bacon because I think the salty, smoky flavor and crunch really are important in this mostly soft fork-and-knife style sandwich. I also like the juicy tomatoes so I kept them in the mix.

The Hot Brown was created as a late night snack for dancing, partying Louisvillians who craved something other than a midnight breakfast. But actually I think it makes a great breakfast or lunch. I know my other half would it eat it for breakfast if I put a fried egg on it! Then again, he would eat just about anything with a fried egg on it. A sandwich smothered in cheese sauce is a yummy thing indeed and I think there are probably endless variations...

Asparagus Hot BrownServes 4


3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt to taste

4 thick slices white bread, such as Pullman or Texas toast, crusts trimmed, bread lightly toasted

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and steamed
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan
1 -2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 wedges

8 slices bacon, cooked

1/4 cup parsley, chopped


For the sauce:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and quickly whisk in milk and cheese. Return pan to heat. Cook sauce, whisking constantly, until smooth and creamy, 1–2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and season sauce with salt to taste.

Preheat broiler. Trim the asparagus spears in half, so they are no more than 4 inches long and cut the toast into triangles. Put 2 pieces of toast in each dish, and cover with 1/4 of the asparagus and spoon 1/2 cup of sauce over it. Sprinkle a teaspoon of cheese over each portion. Garnish each dish with two tomato wedges, tucked next to the sandwich. Broil sandwiches until sauce is browned, about 1-2 minutes. Put 2 pieces bacon on each sandwich and sprinkle with parsley before serving.