I had never heard of hot slaw until about six months before we moved away from Kentucky. If you like German food, you won’t be completely unfamiliar with it as it’s similar to a warm cabbage salad. I just didn’t realize it was a Kentucky thing until I went to lunch with coworkers in northern Kentucky. Apparently that is where this delicious salad is the most popular.
I haven’t had it since. Although it’s always been in the back of my mind on the must-recreate list.
Now, a Hot Brown I’ve had before and I can take them or leave them. They have their good qualities, but they are also very heavy with a lot of cream sauce. Prepare for a nap after indulging is all I’m saying.
When I was trying to think of what to make in honor of this year’s Kentucky Derby, I decided it was time to try my own version of hot slaw. I thought it might go nicely with the good qualities of the Hot Brown (the turkey and bacon). And of course, there had to be bourbon involved. I piled it all up on fresh sourdough, because I can’t quite ignore the Bay Area, now can I?
This open-faced sandwich hits all the taste buds – sweet, salty and even a little sour (in a very good way, thanks to the slaw). I had some turkey cutlets in the fridge so I cooked those up with a little salt and pepper. They were perfect, but leftover roasted turkey will do fine.
Open-faced Bacon Turkey Sandwich with Kentucky Hot Slaw and Maple Bourbon Mayo
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp Kentucky bourbon
1 tsp maple syrup
Pinch of ground black pepper
Sandwich and Slaw
11 slices of bacon (I prefer pastured, heritage breed)
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar (I use mascavo sugar)
1 tbsp Kentucky bourbon
3 cups sliced green cabbage
1 cup sliced purple cabbage
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
4 cooked turkey cutlets or about 10 ounces sliced roasted turkey
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted
For the mayo, in a small dish, stir together the mayonnaise, grated garlic, 1 teaspoon of bourbon, maple syrup and black pepper. Set aside.
In a large skillet, cook the slices of bacon over medium-high heat (you may have to work in batches). Cook 8 slices to your desired doneness (these will go on the sandwiches). Cook the remaining 3 slices crisp. Remove the bacon from the skillet and let drain on a plate covered with a paper towel.
Drain the skillet so that you have about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat left. Return to medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Stir well to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan and watch the garlic closely so it doesn’t burn. Cook for about 1 minute. Carefully add the vinegar (step back to avoid the strong smell that will smoke up), brown sugar and tablespoon of bourbon.
Continue to stir and increase the heat to medium-high. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, until it begins to thicken.
Stir in the cabbage, reduce the heat to medium and cook about 2 to 3 more minutes. I prefer mine just barely wilted. Add the salt and pepper. Chop the 3 crisp slices of bacon and stir into the slaw. Remove from the heat.
To assemble, spread 1 tablespoon of mayo over each slice of bread. Top with one turkey cutlet (or about 2.5 ounces roasted turkey) and two slices of bacon. Divide the slaw evenly and arrange on top of each of the four sandwiches. Serve warm.