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My Great American Road Trip – Kentucky

August 1, 2020

I’ve been to Kentucky twice, both for work reasons. The first time was a long, long time ago when I was in Cincinnati for a work thing and crossed the river to Kentucky, because I figured I may never get back there. And it took a while, but I did get back with great thanks to the Boston Pops. We traveled (by private plane, thank you very much) to Lexington to celebrate the something-anniversary of the Keeneland Race Track. 290910_10150328926583590_692201693_o.jpg

I love a horse race – the Kentucky Derby is practically a dream come true. And Keeneland delivered for us. We there were cameras waiting on the tarmac when the plane touched down and bourbon chocolates waiting in our rooms.

We were treated to a day at the races. I bet on a horse called For Men Only and he came in nearly dead last – let that be a lesson in the importance of inclusion. But we got to stand in the winners circle as the first place finisher got his roses.

And it was the location of one of my all time fave photos with my friends Vicky and Amanda. I call this Fillies at the Gate. 330101_10150328935518590_609081012_o.jpg

I’m not sure what we ate, but I did drink a lot of Bourbon. I was shamed by a bartender for ordering a mint julep at the track’s player’s club (“only tourists order that” he said ignoring the obvious fact that I was a tourist.)

I would have happily made a mint julep for Kentucky and been done with it, but that is not the right “spirit” (get it) for my self-appointed challenge. Kentucky foods include barbecue, bourbon balls, and Derby pie. But beyond all else, is the Kentucky Hot Brown.  I first hear about the Hot Brown when it was featured in my all-time favorite documentary that doesn’t star me, the elegantly titled Sandwiches That You Will Like. The Hot Brown was created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. It was meant to be a variation on the Welsh Rarebit and an alternative to ham and cheese for late night diners.

There are many components to the Hot Brown. First you need to roast a turkey breast. I used a chicken breast because I didn’t have a turkey handy. Then you have to make a mornay sauce. To do that, you start with a roux – butter and four. Then you add a cup of milk, bring it to a boil, and stir til it thickens up. From there you add in cheese (I used white cheddar, cause that’s what I had on hand). Once the cheese is melted, you season with s&p and nutmeg to taste. Nutmeg to taste for me is a whole lot of nutmeg. It was soooo yummy and immediately tasted like Christmas.

Next up you make french toast. For real! You dip heavy white bread in eggs til it is soaked through and then fry til golden brown on each side.

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Once the bread is done you put it on a sheet pan and load it up with turkey (chicken), a couple slices of tomato, and a generous ladle of the delicious cheese sauce, which you top with more cheese – grated parm.

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The whole thing goes under the broiler til the cheese is bubbly and brown. THEN YOU ADD BACON! And a sprinkle of garnish. I used scallions cause that’s what I had.

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This is a terrible sandwich. It is not hangover food, it is I’m still drunk and making bad decisions food. I didn’t eat all day in anticipation of this and I haven’t really eaten anything else in the 20 hours since I had it and I’m only just feeling like maybe I can eat again. Seriously, the only time a Hot Brown is the right answer is if you’re a 20 year old, very stoned guy.

But I do love Kentucky!

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