For those of you who familiar with an authentic Louisiana Po'Boy, you will appreciate the perplexing dilemma that I have faced this past couple of months.
As many may recall, Mr. Munchie has been on an an entirely Vegan Diet for some 9 weeks now. No Dairy, No Meat (of any kind) , No White Flour... Yah, It's been Fr@^&*%ing Brutal, to say the least. Remember, we're talkin' about a sausage eating, freak of fromage, frankfurters and foie gras. This has been no easy task, to say the least.
I will say that I've lost 23+ lbs. to date and I really do feel great. I keep asking my wife and kids if I look as good as I feel and they don't.. seem.. to.. respond at all. Anyway...
Back to the Po'Boy... After spending a couple of years in Southern Louisiana in the 80's, I became a true connoisseur of all that is the Louisiana Po'Boy.
Fried Oyster Po'Boy, Shrimp Po'Boy, Catfish Po'Boy, Roast Beef Po'Boy with Gravy, Sausage Po'Boy, Pork Shoulder Po'Boy, Shall I keep going... Ok, Soft Shell Crab Po'Boy, Roasted Ham Po'Boy, Crawfish Po'Boy, Oh.. How about the Fried Egg and Bacon Po'Boy for breakfast? You get the point..
Basically the Po'Boy Sandwich was created by the Creole and Cajun people who used last nights leftover dinner and turned it into the heart of a class of sandwich that's become a staple of the "Coon Ass" diet ever since.
There are those culinary historians that will tell you that term "po' boy" was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin, a former streetcar conductor . In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, Martin served his former colleagues free sandwiches. Martin's restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as "poor boys", and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name. In Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to "po' boy."
You will find these Po'Boy Shops throughout the Bayou Country and each of them will have their own special version. Some of the best I've had have been found at the back counter of little neighborhood grocery stores or in the back alley stands that dot Acadiana (French Louisiana Territory).
Here it is, in a nutshell:
ANATOMY OF A PO'BOY....
#1. The Bread-By far the most important element of differentiation in the Po'Boy from other like sandwiches. It's almost always made with a French Bread Roll. This bread must be very light with a soft and airy center. Far less dense than regular white bread or baguette.
#2. The Main Event-Traditionally, these Po'Boys were made with fried seafood of some kind or another (shrimp, oyster, catfish, etc.), but are also made with plethora of other proteins like roast beef or ham or chicken. They key is that "main event" must always be piping hot when the sandwich is assembled.
#3. The Fixins'-The Classic version is always dressed with a light mayonnaise or remoulade, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, dill pickles and onion. Other optional condiments will include a spicy ketchup and/or creole mustard.
Now, this may sound simple, but when you combine the soft french roll, add the piping hot main event and dress it with the chilled fixins', you get an ethereal concoction that equals a sum greater than it's parts... There is some kind of magical reaction that takes place when the hot meets the cold, meets the spicy and it's all wrapped in parchment and served on a paper plate. MY GOD! You'll have to gimme second while wipe the drool off keyboard.
As mentioned above, my current dietary restrictions have limited the recent intake of traditional Po'Boys that I've been making for the family in years past. However, I have come up with a vegetarian option that my wife and I have really come to enjoy. Granted... this veggie version in no way, shape or form even compares to the classic Po'Boy, but for now, this Poor Boy (me) will have to make do..
MR. MUNCHIE'S VEGETARIAN PO-BOY
*makes two large sandwiches
2 12" WHEAT SUBMARINE ROLLS
4 TBLS. HUMMUS
2 TBLS. MUSTARD (YELLOW, DIJON OR CREOLE)
1 LARGE TOMATO (SLICED THIN)
1 AVOCADO (SLICED THIN)
1/4 RED ONION (SLICED THIN)
1 ROASTED RED BELL PEPPER - MARINATED/PICKLED (SLICED THIN)
4 OZ. SLICED BLACK OLIVES
4 OZ. SLICED PEPPERONCINI
1 HAND FULL OF MIXED LETTUCE GREENS
FESH CRACKED PEPPER/KOSHER SALT TO TASTE
THE CONSTRUCTION OF THIS VEGGIE PO-BOY IS SUPER IMPORTANT... FIRST, SLICE THE ROLLS LEGTH WAYS AND TOAST IN THE BROILER (FACE UP). TOAST VERY LIGHTLY AND ONLY ON THE INSIDE.
BEGIN WITH THE MUSTARD ON ONE SIDE AND SMEAR THE AVOCADO ON TOP OF THAT. QUICKLY HIT IT WITH A GENEROUS AMOUNT OF CRACKED PEPPER. BEGIN TO LAYER THE ONION, PICKLES AND OLIVES, THEN TOP WITH TOMATOES.
ON THE OTHER HALF, SMEAR THE HUMMUS AND TOP IT WITH STRIPS OF ROATED RED PEPPERS.
ADD THE HAND FULL OF LETTUCE GREENS AND SEASON WITH KOSHER SALT.
WRAP THE WHOLE THING UP IN PARCHMENT, CUT IN HALF AND SERVE.