Chill Fighter

Firebird Tavern’s Tony Piraino serves it up hot
Photographs by Joe Vaughn

The Kentucky hot brown is one of Firebird Tavern owner Tony Piraino’s favorite sandwiches. He says the open-face sandwich is “not for anyone on a diet.” He’s “been making this for a while, and when I went to Louisville, I was able to have it at the original location (The Brown Hotel, which has been serving the dish since 1926).” It’s “so good on a chilly, early spring day and/or when hungover.” –  Molly Abraham


The Kentucky Hot Brown (Serves 4)


½ tablespoon salted butter
½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
Pinch of ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper
4 slices Texas toast (crusts trimmed, 2 slices cut into triangles)
14 ounces roasted turkey breast, sliced thick
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
4 slices bacon
Paprika and parsley


In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring

frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in pecorino  Romano cheese until the sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven-safe dish and cover with 7 ounces turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Pour half of the sauce over the dish, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.

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