The Kentucky Hot Brown Burger

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

This is another creation I’ve made to humor my husband, who went to college in Morehead, Kentucky. He’d talked frequently about “The Kentucky Hot Brown” sandwich which was a favorite of his in his youth. I didn’t actually get to try one until we visited Lexington, KY on a road trip last summer. Boy, are these sandwiches ever good! Imagine turkey, creamy cheese sauce, broiled tomatoes and crisp bacon on toasted bread. Certainly not for those on a diet, but definitely delicious! When I was trying to recreate the sandwiches at home for the hubby, I realized that the Kentucky Hot Brown theme could be made even better by turning the sandwich into a burger. Here’s my interpretation — a real treat from Kentucky via New York!


For the Cheese Sauce:

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

For the patties:

2 lb ground chuck
2 eggs
1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup onion, grated
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp hot sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the toppings:

6 large, thick slices ripe tomato (from a beefsteak tomato or similar)
Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for brushing on tomato)
Salt and pepper to taste
12 thick slices good-quality applewood smoked bacon
12 slices deli smoked turkey

vegetable oil (for brushing on the grill rack)
12 thick slices good-quality white bread or Texas Toast
butter (for the bread)


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the cheese sauce: Melt butter in a large, heavy, flameproof saucepan on the grill over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden in color, about 5 minutes. Gradually add milk and half and half, whisking constantly, and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 10 minutes (take care not to burn by moving saucepan to a cooler part of the grill if necessary). When mixture is thick, remove from heat and add cheeses, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth and creamy. Cover and keep warm over indirect low heat, stirring occasionally to keep smooth.

To make the patties: In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix with hands until just combined, then form into 6 patties.

Place a nonstick grill rack (the kind used to grill fish and smaller items) over the main grill rack and place bacon strips on it. Cook bacon until crisp, turning as needed, about 10-15 minutes. Remove, set aside, cover and keep warm.

Brush preheated grill rack with vegetable oil.

Brush tomato slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place slices on grill and cook for about 4 minutes a side, or until cooked through and softening. Remove, set aside, cover and keep warm.

Place the patties over medium high heat and cover, cooking until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Flip patties and cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.

During the last few minutes of cooking, place slices of bread around the outer edges of grill rack until lightly toasted.

To assemble the burgers: Spread one side of each slice of toasted bread with butter. Place one slice of bread, buttered side up, on a plate. Top with a patty, two folded slices of smoked turkey, several spoonfuls of cheese sauce, a grilled tomato slice, and two crisp bacon slices. Serve open faced, or, if desired, top with a second slice of buttered toast (buttered side down).