If you're looking for a way to repurpose your turkey beyond round two at the buffet, might I suggest a (slightly over the top) Kentucky "Hot Brown"? Normally I make this open-faced sandwich as part of my Derby day spread, but the Southern specialty also makes a perfect reprieve from Thanksgiving casserole overkill.
A "Hot Brown" starts out simple enough: sliced turkey, bacon, and tomatoes are piled atop thick, buttery bread, but the ordinary turns to extraordinary when it is smothered in a cheesy, creamy Mornay sauce. The decadent creation was invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1920's and has since become quite its claim to fame.
This oddly-named dish might not be familiar to those of you outside the South, or even beyond Kentucky, but I promise you the crunchy, saucy combination will make Plain Jane turkey start to seem a whole lot less ordinary. (Heck, it's a great way to gussy up leftover chicken, too!) And if you've never made Mornay sauce then you are in for a real treat. The classic French cream sauce is thickened with roux and spiked with freshly grated cheese, and it pairs splendidly with an endless array of delicious things.
Thanksgiving leftovers — and pasta, baked potatoes, and broccoli — just got a lot more interesting... But what about you? How does your family stretch out turkey for a few more tasty meals?
Open-Faced "Hot Brown" Sandwiches
Makes 4 sandwiches
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 small garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 cup shredded cheese, such as gruyere, cheddar, and/or Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick-cut buttered Texas toast (I prefer frozen)
2 cups cooked shredded turkey, warmed
6 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ripe tomato, chopped
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until golden and toasted, about 1 minute. Stir in the milk and garlic clove. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cheese(s), salt, mustard, and pepper and continue whisking until melted. Discard the garlic clove and adjust seasoning to taste.
Heat the toast until golden and crisp. Divide the turkey evenly among the toast slices. Drizzle each slice liberally with cheese sauce and sprinkle with bacon and tomatoes. Serve immediately.
(Image credits: Nealey Dozier)