I remember the first time I ever had Kentucky Hot Brown. I fell in love with it right then. I had it at a friend’s house. She shared the recipe with me and I’ve been enjoying it for years now. I never saw it on a restaurant menu until a cool little restaurant, the Blue Canoe, opened in town a couple of years ago. I can’t help but order it every time we go. I don’t know if it’s a popular dish for them, but I sure love it.
I wanted all of the wonderful flavors in a pasta dish, because, let’s face it, I could live off pasta! I kind of deconstructed the traditional Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich and replaced the bread with cheesy pasta. Ok, so, you could just mix everything together and call it a casserole. But, it’s so much more than that! It’s layers of creamy, cheesy, salty, smoky, crunchy goodness. Layer it. Make it pretty. Savor it.
The tomato is really more than a garnish. It adds a little acidity to all the creaminess.
Kentucky Hot Brown Mac & Cheese
- Salt and pepper cubed chicken breast. Heat a skillet on med-high. Add chicken cook 2 to 3 minutes on first side then toss and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the second side until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from skillet.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
- Add ham cubes to hot skillet and just heat through. Remove from skillet
- Cook bacon to crisp. Remove from skillet and chop.
- Add oil to skillet. Add bread cubes to skillet and toast tossing until all sides are browned. Remove from skillet.
- In a large pan, melt 2 T butter. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add milk and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it begins to thicken. (It will not get really thick) Add cheese and stir until cheese melts.
- Add pasta to cheese sauce; stir to combine.
- I like to serve in individual dishes, you can plate on one large platter if you prefer. Spoon pasta on dish. Top with chicken, ham, bacon and bread. Add 1 or 2 slices of tomato on top. Serve immediately.