Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Writer Sarah Baird grew up in Kentucky and lives in New Orleans. Her first book, "Kentucky Sweets: Bourbon, Spoonbread, and Mile High Pie," was published earlier this year.
Drenched in gooey cheese, anchored by salty meat, and with enough thick bread to sop it all up, the Hot Brown is quite possibly the ultimate drunk food.
Over the years, the sandwich has not only reached far across the Commonwealth as a go-to remedy for a night of hard drinking, but has become the sandwich ambassador of Louisville’s dining scene. Crafted almost 100 years ago in one of the city’s finest grand hotels, the Brown (which is regal enough to give any Wes Anderson creation a run for its money), its decadence has become a thing of legend.
The dish was an instant hit, and quickly spread to restaurants throughout the community. (His other concept, the cold brown—which consisted of turkey, hard boiled eggs, rye, and Thousand Island dressing—didn’t quite take off in the same way.)
While there has been a resurgence in interest in the hot brown in recent years (even David Chang of the Momofuku empire tried his hand at a deconstructed version) the classic, original sandwich is all one needs to cure her hangover or enter into a deep, food-induced sleep.
Bonus: If you’re in Kentucky, there’s even a trail you can follow, the Hot Brown Hop, to try different takes on the sandwich across the city!
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