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I truly do think the left overs are the best part of any Holiday ham or turkey. It’s always been a big night when I make these light “Hot Browns.” A day I can usually count on an extra teenager or two hanging around until dinner is served.

Hot Brown Sandwiches

Hot Brown Sandwiches

These sandwiches work equally well with either left over ham or turkey. There is something about broiling a sandwich like this that makes it feel more like a meal and less like a snack. Just add a small salad, pickles or a crunchy slaw, and you’ve got a budget meal on your hands.

Hot Browns:  Serves 6

  • 6 slices bread (toasted or not)
  • 12 ounces sliced ham or turkey, thinly sliced
  • Vegetable layer:  Use slices of tomato 1/4 inch thick, or cooked asparagus (this is a great place to use any left over from, say, an Easter when you’ve served Asparagus or tomatoes off a crudite platter)
  • 9 slices bacon, cooked – you could omit this if you’re working with ham, but it’s wonderful with the turkey
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 4 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated, save a few sprinkles for the top
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Make cheese sauce:  Melt butter, add flour, whisking and cook about one minute.  Slowly add milk and cook, stirring till quite thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, Sherry, salt and onion powder.

Assemble sandwiches:  Preheat broiler. Arrange bread on large cookie sheet. Top each with two ounces turkey or ham, two slices tomato or asparagus, a sprinkle of pepper, bacon, then Cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkle a bit of cheese on the top. Sprinkle paprika over the top, if desired.

I use three pieces of bacon for every two sandwiches – I don’t like it “hanging” over when it is broiled, so I remove the extra and piece together on one of the sandwiches.

Broil till lightly browned and serve piping hot. Serve with crunchy slaw or pickles or a budget salad.

Building the Hot Brown: layer on your ingredients

Building the Hot Brown: layer on your ingredients

Smear on the thick cheese sauce - sprinkle with more cheese

Smear on the thick cheese sauce – sprinkle with more cheese

Hot Browns - broiled to bubbly deliciousness

Hot Browns – broiled to bubbly deliciousness

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied

  • While this recipe works wonderfully for left over Ham or Turkey, if you have a little bit of White or Mornay sauce left over from something else, a sandwich like this is a great way to use it up. Left over asparagus or other vegetables work here, too. Try making these on left over biscuits or buns from a Holiday dinner.
  • Bacon: Used to be an inexpensive ingredient, its price has risen with its popularity. Let’s face it, bacon isn’t the healthiest – we seldom use it here on its own as a meat, but do use it in small amounts in recipes, where I consider it as a “flavoring” rather than a protein. I buy on store specials and take advantage of coupons – my go to price is between $2.00 and $3.00 a package. I freeze until needed, partially thaw (until a knife will go through) and cut across the bacon from top to bottom. 1/16th is the same size as a strip. I wrap the bacon back up and freeze again.If I’m cooking bacon, I’ll often think about another recipe I’d like to use bacon in and cook up a bit extra for it. Then I hide it in the fridge. Cost for this recipe, at $2.89 a pound, $1.62.
  • Ham:  Buy an extra every time they are on sale for the Holidays; they keep a long time and freeze well. (See 12 Days of Ham.) Cut off a slice or two before you freeze it or bake it for “ham steaks.” Serve your ham for dinner, then cut up the leftovers and bag in one or two cup portions and freeze for recipes. Ham may not be the healthiest of meats, but a small amount brings home the flavor, and allows you to use just a little in many recipes, like soups and casseroles. Make soups with the bone. My ham usually runs about 69 to 88 cents a pound in this area on sale. 12 ounces runs about 52 cents.
  • Cheese: Cheese is an item that I almost always buy on sale. Often with store specials, coupons and special offers from the producers I can get cheese very cheaply, and sometimes at no cost. I’ll stock up then – if it’s not open, it keeps forever. If I have to freeze, I will sometimes do this – it’s ok when used in a casserole, but not very good for eating. I look for a price of a dollar (or less) for an eight ounce block of store cheese. I used about 4 ounces of cheese in these, the cost is around 50 cents.
  • Bread – bread freezes well is wrapped carefully and thawed overnight in the fridge, but only for short periods of time. I really like to use the better breads – oatmeal, used here, is a compromise – my kids like it and its a bit better than store brand.  Plus the better breads often have great sales with coupons. I used Brownberry on sale with a coupon – 75 cents.  Six slices come to 23 cents.
  • Milk:  On sale this week, a gallon is $2.50, a cup and a half about 12 cents. When milk is inexpensive like this, I’ll pick up some at the beginning of the week, and then stop back at the store and buy more toward the end of the week for the next week’s supply.  I’ll also think about recipes that use more milk.  It generally keeps a good week unopened after the “sell by” day, several days opened if closed promptly and put back in the fridge after each use.
  • Butter:  I stock up at $1.99 a pound, and hope for better prices now and then.  Last bought at Easter – and I bought a lot – at $1.49 a pound. One tablespoon is 5 cents.
  • Tomato:  I look for about 99 cents to $1.49 if I have to pick up off season, and generally buy the plum tomatoes. Half of the sandwiches were tomato, 99 cents a pound, 50 cents total.
  • Asparagus: A great sale price is 99 cents, seldom seen, but I buy most of my asparagus for $1.99 a bunch. A bunch can vary in weight, so keep that in mind when comparison shopping. This bunch had about 40 thin spears, I used about 15 and marinated the rest. Cost 75 cents.
  • To remove tough ends, slide one out of the rubber band, and snap it, holding it at the ends – It will break in just the right place. Line that stalk up with the rest of the asparagus that is still banded cut through them all at once. The stalks take longer to cook than the ends, so sliding a band up to keep the tips together saves you a bit of time. I don’t waste the ends – they go in my morning smoothie or a stock.
  • Other ingredients:  Negligible.

Nutrition:  (based on ham, tomato variation with the bacon – about 30 calories less if made with turkey.)

Per Serving: 431 Calories; 23g Fat (47.3% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 71mg Cholesterol; 1362mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 3 Fat.

Put Your Own spin on it:

No reason you can’t vary this in anyway to suit your own tastes!  Different meats, cheese, vegetables – it’s hard to go wrong.

My Pay Off:

Hopefully I’ve gotten my kid to eat a tomato or some asparagus – but even better, I’ve completely transformed a leftover into something new, delicious and filling.

Recipe made April 2012 for $3.47, remade February 2014 for $4.32.

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