Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Post Derby Day: Hot Brown Casserole

Yes, we've been incredibly absent from this space of late. Really can't even pin point the reason why. Maybe too busy to cook let alone be inspired, frustrated that my photography is never getting better, when we do have some spare time we try to stay away from the computer.....really there is no specific reason. But for some reason today seems like a good time to give it a try again.

Awhile ago (yes, started this post several weeks ago now...we will get back on this horse slowly) we enjoyed celebrating the Kentucky Derby and we remembered that last year we made this fantastic dish, Hot Brown Casserole that we watched Damaris  Phillips from her Food Network show Southern at Heart make . We knew we had to make it again.Originally it was our collective first exposure to the traditional Kentucky Derby dish and needless to say it made an impression. So we knew we wanted to remake the dish.

And how could you celebrate the Kentucky Derby without also enjoying a classic mint julep. 

This is spring comfort food at it's best and indulged we did.


Hot Brown Casserole (adapted from Southern At Heart)  

1 bone-in turkey breast half (about 2 pounds....we used rotisserie chicken)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces bacon, cut into lardons
20 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 slices stale sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (a heaping 2 cups total)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Special equipment: four 6-inch round cast-iron gratin pans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Rub the turkey breast with 2 teaspoons of the oil; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 160 degrees F, about 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 15 minutes; the turkey will continue to cook and the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.

Place the bacon lardons on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; drain and reserve the fat for another use.

Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Coat the tomatoes with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes cut-sides up on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until they start to dehydrate and wrinkle, about 45 minutes.

While the tomatoes are cooking, start the Mornay sauce. Add the butter to a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the milk to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir continuously so the roux doesn't scorch, about 2 minutes. When the milk starts to simmer, slowly add it to the roux, stirring continuously so lumps don't form. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the Cheddar and red peppers and stir until smooth. Remove the sauce from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

You are now ready to assemble the dish. Heat the broiler. Distribute the bread cubes evenly among four 6-inch round cast-iron gratin pans. Cut the turkey into bite-size pieces, about 1/2 inch each, and divide evenly among the gratin pans. Spoon the Mornay sauce over the pans, and top each with 10 tomato halves. Sprinkle each pan with the Parmesan and bacon and place under the broiler on the bottom rack of the oven until golden and bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Mint Julep 

10 mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
Seltzer water
Crushed ice
2 1/2 ounces  bourbon whiskey (we used local Washington State Bourbon)

Place the mint leaves in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass and top with the sugar. Muddle these together until the leaves begin to break down. Add a splash of seltzer water, fill the glass 3/4 full with crushed ice, and add the bourbon. Top with another splash of seltzer, stir, and garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.


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