Mornay Sauce Recipe for The Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich

Friends Drift Inn Recipes – Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

Kentucky Hot Brown as served at Tousey House with Mornay Sauce

A Great Hot Brown? The Secret is in the Sauce!


The Kentucky Hot Brown is a Louisville tradition often associated with the Kentucky Derby. Developed by The Brown Hotel, the open faced sandwich is much better suited for the cold weather surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas than the flirty days of Kentucky’s spring. But who am I to argue with Louisville’s foodways?

The traditional Hot Brown presentation features white toast topped with roasted turkey, bacon, Mornay sauce and cheese. After a run through the broiler to melt layers of cheese, the dish is topped with a fresh tomato slice, a sprinkling of chopped parsley, and a few extra shavings of Parmesan cheese.

I have eaten Hot Brown sandwiches from here to Paducah and back again; including a sampling at The Brown Hotel. Charlie’s Hot Browns are better than anything I have experienced in any restaurant – until now.

Kentucky Hot Brown...the secret is in the sauce! Mornay Sauce Recipe

On a whim, we took Mom to the Tousey House Tavern in Burlington, KY. The Hot Brown there was the most amazing rendition! It may sound trite, but the secret is in the sauce!

Tousey House’s Mornay is rich, luxuriant, and silky. There is an unusual acidic bite, with a hint of nutmeg in the background. It is thick but flowing; so unlike the immobile masses of white sauce I have come to expect. The Tousey House Hot Brown sports a Mornay Sauce fit for a glorious Kentucky spring day!

Here’s our interpretation of The Hot Brown Mornay Sauce recipe. This sauce will take your guests right to the Winner’s Circle! Enjoy!

If you are in a rush…here’s a more simple Hot Browns in a hurry recipe.

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.