a close-up of Tousey House Tavern's Hot Brown sandwich.

Tousey House Tavern’s Hot Brown

Talk about famous dishes. The Hot Brown first showed up at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky in 1926. Called a “sandwich,” the happy, hot, open-faced concoction of layered turkey, ham, and bacon smothered under a heavy coat of Mornay sauce, made its way around Kentucky, eventually earning the reputation of a Kentucky classic.

A painted barrel marking an official stop on the B-Line trailI sampled my first Hot Brown at the Tousey House Tavern in Burlington, Kentucky. The tavern is on the self-guided B-Line tour of Northern Kentucky’s bourbon trail and a perfect lunch spot to recover and recoup from a bourbon infused morning.

Originally built as a home in 1863, the building housing today’s tavern has experienced many incarnations, transitioning from estate home, to hotel, boarding house, consignment shop and restaurant.

Exterior of the Tousey House Tavern

Restored in 1987, today’s restaurant displays all the comforts of Southern hospitality including gracious dining rooms and menu laden with Southern comfort food.

Dining room in the Tousey House Tavern

To my joy, Tousey serves a killer Hot Brown sandwich.

Although we did not score a detailed recipe, we did learn some secrets to Tousey’s Hot Brown. They break from tradition by using a combo of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses in their Mornay sauce and top the sandwich with a flavorful pecan-smoked bacon.

Here is our version of their version:


Yield: 1 serving.

2 thick slices toasted white bread, crust removed

A generous layer of sliced salt-cured country ham

A generous layer of sliced oven-roasted turkey

Mornay Sauce (recipe follows)

2 slices crisp-cooked pecan smoked bacon

1 slice tomato

Grated Parmesan cheese

Finely chopped parsley

Cut bread into triangles and put in the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer ham and turkey on top of bread. Cover all with a thick coat of Mornay sauce. Top sauce with two pieces of bacon in a cross pattern.

Put tomato slice in center of bacon cross. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Broil sandwich in a preheated broiler with rack set about 5-inches from heat, until sauce is bubbly and browned in spots, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


Yield: about 2-1/4 cups (enough for several sandwiches)

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk, heated just to the boil

¼ cup mixture of shredded Cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese



Melt butter in a medium size saucepan set over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook slowly, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Raise heat to medium and cook mixture, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses and continue cooking, stirring constantly until cheese melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For more about the Tousey House Tavern, click HERE.

For more about the B-Line bourbon tour, click HERE.

A copy of The B-Line paper Guide.

If you like the Hot Brown, you must try the famous Horseshoe from Springfield, Il. Click HERE for recipe.

An openface horseshoe sandwich piled high with French fries.

The Horseshoe sandwich