Country Market Leads to Delicious Dish

It is said that Paris is the center of the world of gastronomy but it's a big world. In my little corner of it, I've discovered many terrific regional foods and food markets that continue to thrive even in the midst of the evil empire superstore.

Mike and I try to support local shops and farms as much as possible and in the Mansfield area, that is still relatively easy to do. Although some of my favorites are no longer here, we still have a great local bakery, a few meat markets and a variety of country markets that carry seasonal and local produce.
Last weekend, I decided to check out the Planktown Country Market in Shiloh,Ohio. After a stop at an Amish/Mennonite greenhouse and nearly loading the car full of plants, we made our way to the market. The parking lot was full at 10:00 on a Saturday morning so I knew that it must be good. This is not a market that one just stumble's upon. It's tucked in among farms and greenhouses and is down a country lane.
After entering the modest and somewhat outdated building, I could see why the parking lot was full. They have one of the longest cheese counters I have ever seen. I took my number and eagerly awaited the time when my number would be called. Finally over the loudspeaker I heard, "number 90". I practically screamed out, "That's me". I started at one end of the counter and worked my way through countless cheeses and deli meats. My clerk was happy to give me a sample if I was unsure about a particular cheese. Although most of the cheeses were hard cheeses, sorry no brie, the variety was endless. They had flavors that I had never imagined and many turned out to be quite good. (still not sure about the pizza flavored cheese) Most of the cheeses were Amish -made from right here in Ohio. We particularly enjoyed the Holmes County Baby Swiss. Then I spotted a slab of bacon. A real unsliced "Slab" of bacon. I'm delighted. No more paper thin pieces of bacon for me. I give it a sniff and it has a wonderful smoky scent. Perfect. Just when I think it can't get any better, I discover bags containing the ends of the deli meats that are too small for them to use in the slicer. The bags contain mixed types of meats and sell for only $1.29/lb. You can't beat it. Perfect for sandwiches or...Kentucky Hot Brown. I got the last meat bag and it contained a couple of pounds of turkey and ham. I had more cheese than any two people could possibly consume, bacon and the bag of meat for only $35.
After a quick stop at the bakery on the way home, I was set with all the ingredients for a delicious Kentucky Hot Brown. This is one of my favorites from the years that I lived in Louisville. Invented at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, it has become a popular regional dish and has even been featured by Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse and many others. Each person has their own twist on the dish. Anyone can make it that knows how to make a basic bechamel sauce. Served with a nice green salad and dessert, it is a perfect meal to serve for an informal gathering.
Kentucky Hot Brown
Kentucky Hot Brown is an open faced sandwich and can be prepared in individual gratin dishes but I like to use a large pyrex casserole and then serve onto plates from the one dish. The traditional version calls for parmesan cheese but I like to use an extra sharp cheddar.For me this is a dish that doesn't require a recipe for an experienced cook. If you need a detailed recipe, there are many available on the web.
First I use a good bread and toast as many slices as the number of people I intend to serve. My large casserole will hold six slices of toast. Place the toast in a single layer into the lightly greased casserole. Next, I place a nice, thick layer of turkey breast on top of each piece of toast followed by ham. Once this is completed, prepare a bechemal sauce with the slight variation of adding cheese to melt in the sauce. Pour your completed sauce over each slice and bake in a 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly (approximately 20 minutes). When complete, garnish with a nice,crispy piece of bacon over each slice. I like fresh tomato slices and some chopped green onions on top. This rich, creamy dish is sure to become a favorite to be served many times and in many variations over the years.

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