Leftovers Recipe: Open-Faced Turkey “Hot Brown” Sandwiches

updated May 2, 2019
Open-Faced "Hot Brown" Sandwiches
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(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

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.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

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?

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

Open-Faced "Hot Brown" Sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

Nutritional Info


  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.