Quick Recipes and Easy

A Bit of Kentucky in Bear River, Nova Scotia

I have been told that Kentuckians may wander far and wide, but eventually all paths lead back to the Bluegrass State. Kentuckians will frequently leave their Kentucky homes after graduation from High School or College to seek adventure and employment elsewhere, but they always go home. Sometimes, after getting a taste of the “outside” world, they return home and settle down permanently. Others simply return now and then to visit family and friends; to eat down home food and to kick off their shoes and wiggle their toes in the grass for which Kentucky is world well-known.

Now, 1,500 miles from Kentucky and across an ocean lies another place that is close to this Kentuckian’s heart: Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is a vacation destination for over 2 million visitors a year who come from all over the world to savor the Province’s attractions, first rate hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, camp sites, hospitality, and food (particularly its well-known lobsters and scallops). Nova Scotia offers something for everyone regardless of age, gender, or interests: from bird watching to camping, to sightseeing or bathing and walking on its fabulous sandy beaches, and everything in between.

Many of Nova Scotia’s visitors are Americans looking to visit a new culture, but one that closely resembles their own in terms of heritage, language and customs. How many of these American visitors are Kentuckians, I can’t say and I am sure there are no statistics available. I can tell you that I am personally responsible for more than a few Kentuckians who have made the visit and many of these have returned again and again to experience more of Nova Scotia and all it has to offer. And, of course, these Kentuckians have told others and so it goes. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is not a not a horde of Kentuckian visitors that the Nova Scotia Tourism Council have not identified as a force to be reckoned with.

Now I tell you all this for several reasons: 1. I am an unabashed lover of Nova Scotia and all it has to offer. 2. I am also a Kentuckian who experiences a bout of home sickness from time to time and 3. I like food and excellent restaurants and this is, after all, a food and cooking web site.

So having said all of the above, can you imagine what it would be like for a Kentucky visitor to Nova Scotia to find a first class restaurant that is featuring the Kentucky Hot Brown on its menu?

Visitors who make their way to Bear River, Nova Scotia will find a small, unpretentious and fabulous restaurant: The Changing Tide Diner, that serves the best Kentucky Hot Brown you will find any where outside Kentucky. In fact, this may be the only place outside of Kentucky where you will find this dish on the menu. Although the Kentucky Hot Brown is ubiquitously found in most restaurants in Kentucky, I have never seen it on any menu outside Kentucky except at this small diner in Bear River. By the way, if you have not experienced the Hot Brown, you should remedy this immediately (see recipe below). It is a wonderful hot sandwich that visitors to Kentucky delight in while visiting the Commonwealth and many repeat visitors to Kentucky will tell you that one of the things that brings them back (aside from the wonderful Kentuckian hospitality and attractions) is the chance to eat another Hot Brown.

In the way of a small history lesson: The Hot Brown Sandwich was made by a chef at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky many years ago. The Brown Hotel, an ancient Louisvillian landmark, is a first rate hotel with an brilliant kitchen.

And in the way of a small history and geography lesson: Bear River, Nova Scotia is a small village near the town of Digby, Nova Scotia (the home of the world well-known Digby Scallop Fleet). Digby was founded in 1783 by colonists from New England who remained loyal to the Crown during the American Revolution and were forced to find refuge from the revolutionaries during the American War of Independence. Bear River was established by Loyalists and German immigrants, along with the native Mi’kmag’s also during the 1780’s. The entire area is a visitor’s mecca abounding in history, scenery, and activities for the entire family.

Now for a small confession: it was a young woman, who goes by the initials KAS (a born and bred Kentuckian) who introduced the Kentucky Hot Brown to the Changing Tide Diner when its previous owner questioned for the recipe. It is one of the things I like about Nova Scotia; the friendliness of its people. Where else in the world, could you engage the chef in a first class restaurant in conversation and get an opportunity to make a suggestion that is acted upon? I really did not know that the Kentucky Hot Brown would be on the menu and so I was surprised during a recent visit to the area to find it there and I am told that it is a conversation piece for American visitors to the restaurant and that it is loved and re-ordered by many of the restaurant’s diners.

So go to Kentucky and when you’re there order the Hot Brown and come to Nova Scotia and when you’re there, visit South West Nova Scotia: see the whales, see the Lighthouses, see the Beaches, see the Museums, see the scenery, delight in the people and have a Hot Brown in Bear River. And now for that recipe:

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich

6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, room temperature and beaten
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup prepared whipped cream
8 slices toasted white bread, crust trimmed off
1 pound cooked turkey breast, thinly sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained (optional, I don’t like pimientos)
8 bacon slices, fried crisp

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Gradually add flour, stirring constantly, until smooth and free from lumps. Gradually stir in milk until sauce comes to a gentle boil, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted and well blended.

In a small bowl, beat egg. Gradually add 1 cup of hot sauce, 1/3 cup at a time, to the egg, stirring constantly. Gradually add egg mixture to remaining sauce, stirring constantly until well blended; add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in whipped cream.

For each Hot Brown sandwich, place two slices of toasted bread on a metal (or flameproof) dish. Cover the toast with a liberal amount of turkey. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the turkey. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until the sauce is speckled brown and bubbly. Remove from broiler, sprinkle with diced pimientos (optional, as I said, I don’t like pimientos), and cross two pieces of bacon over the top of the sandwich, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings of two open-faced sandwiches each.

Maureen R. Sinclair is an American (via N.Y.C. and Lexington, KY). who currently resides in Nova Scotia, Canada. Educated as a Registered Nurse, she holds an M.S. in Psychology. Ms. Sinclair has traveled widely and has many interests. She is an accomplished artist and writer currently writing for onlinecooking.net. Ms. Sinclair can be reached at: mailto:mrs3371@hotmail.com mrs3371@hotmail.com or mailto:Sinclair@onlinecooking.net Sinclair@onlinecooking.net.

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