The 1st of May and Kentucky Hot Browns

Today is May Day. On May 1, 1886, in Chicago and other cities, a major union demonstration took place in support of the eight-hour workday. The Chicago protests lasted several days. On May 4, the strike at the McCormick Reaper Plant in the city turned violent.

Early on a crowd of 3,000 people had gathered in Haymarket Square to listen to anarchists denounce the brutality of police and demand an eight-hour work day. As the night wore on, a storm began to blow in Chicago. Two hours after the first drops fell, the crowd had dwindled to only a few hundred – no more than 300 or 400. When the last speaker had finished he talk, 180 policemen marched from the station a block away to break up the remainder of the crowd. As a police captain ordered the meeting to disperse, the final speaker cried out that it had been a peaceable gathering. His claim was shattered with a bomb that exploded in the police ranks. The blast wounded 67 officers, 7 of whom died. The police responded by firing on the crowd, killing several men and wounding an estimated two hundred.

In 1889, the International Socialist Conference declared that May 1 would be an international holiday for laborers. Today May Day is known in many places as International Workers’ Day. In America, International Workers’ Day was met with contempt, especially during the anti-communist fervor of the Cold War. In 1955, Pope Pius XIII declared May 1 to be the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker as an alternative to the Communist Labor Union. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of workers, fathers and social justice, so he was the logical choice.

Three years later, in July 1958, President Eisenhower signed a resolution naming May 1 as “Loyalty Day” in an attempt to avoid any hint of solidarity with the Socialist Conference. The resolution declared that May 1 would be “a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States of American and to recognize the heritage of American Freedom.” I kid you not.

Today is also the first Saturday in May. If you are a fan of horse racing or, like me, a fan of Ladies in Hats, you know what that means – Kentucky Derby and all that Fashion History.

It’s spring, and that’s beautiful. What could be better than to wear a big hat and eat a big Juicy Burger in the tradition of Kentucky’s Hot Browns? Oh yeah!

Kentucky Hot Brown Burgers
Mornay Sauce au Fromage Gruyère Classique

1/2 cup Gruyère Cheese
2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
1 Egg Yolk
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Pinch Nutmeg
1 Pinch Salt
Dash Fresh Black Pepper

Coarsely grate the Gruyère Cheese, set aside. Whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and mix well. Continuing stirring over low heat for two minutes. While continually whisking, add the milk in small quantities – about two tablespoons at a time. Make sure to fully incorporate the each addition before adding the next to ensure a smooth sauce.

Once about half of the milk has been added, pour in the rest and give the mixture a good whisking. Continue to heat the sauce on low to medium heat, whisking often. Cook to just below the boiling point until the mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and add the egg yolk mixture, continually stirring so the egg does not cook into a clump. Stir in the cheese, two tablespoons at a time, fully incorporating it into the sauce. If the cheese does not melt, reheat the sauce briefly on low heat. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Allow sauce to cool slightly.

Ground Meat Burgers
1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Sausage
Fresh Pepper to taste
6 slices Tomato
6 slices cooked Bacon
6 Hamburger Buns
Butter as needed
Handful Arugula

Combine ground beef and sausage. Shape into 6 hamburger patties. Keep chilled until ready to cook.

Slice tomato, set aside.

Fry bacon crisp, set aside. Wipe out skillet, butter buns and toast lightly. Keep warm.

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil grate. Place burgers on grill and cook for about 4 minutes per side or to desired doneness.

To Assemble the Burgers: Scatter some arugula on the bottom of each bun. Ladle a small amount of Mornay Sauce over the arugula. Place a burger over the sauce, then ladle more sauce. Top each burger with bacon, a slice of tomato and the top bun.

Serve with plenty of napkins.

Nothing goes better with a burger than a milkshake. And what could be better with this Kentucky Burger than Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Shakes. After all, the Kentucky Derby Festival has all been leading up to the greatest two minutes in the sport of horseracing. So enjoy!

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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