New Orleans' iconic sandwich is under attack. What's a poor boy to do?
Throw a party, what else?
That would be the third-annual New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival, which takes place Sunday, November 22. More than three dozen restaurants will be on hand, slapping fried oysters, shrimp, catfish, soft-shell crab, roast beef (with debris), and more between two slices of crusty bread and garnishing with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and whatnot, all to preserve a big, tasty bite of the city's culinary heritage.
The culprits, according to a recent piece in the New York Times by the esteemed Southern food writer John T. Edge, are the usual suspects:
the steady creep of fast-food sandwich joints, corner cutting by
convenience-minded proprietors, the economic disaster that began with
Katrina, the notion that a fistful of perfectly fried fresh seafood is
less healthful than a roll stuffed with preservative- and chemical-laden
faux food products.
So with an abiding love of the Big Easy
and an abundance of excellent-quality Florida shrimp, I thought this
would be the perfect time knock back a poor boy or two in solidarity
with the preservationists. It would be tough to pick my favorite poor-boy purveyor, but as tradition dictates, we stay at the Royal Sonesta on
Bourbon Street and make a final meal of shrimp and oyster poor boys
before heading off to the airport, the Sonesta's Desire Oyster Bar gets
the props here.
The boy may be po', but he's rich in everything else.
SHRIMP PO-BOY (WITH A NOD TO THE DESIRE OYSTER BAR)
1 lb. 21-30 count shrimp, peeled and deveined (if using 16-20 shrimp, cut in half lengthwise)
½ C. AP flour
½ C. Corn flour
2 T. Cajun seasoning
2 T. water
1½ qt. peanut oil
4 soft rolls or baguettes
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Your favorite recipe or purchased tartar sauce
oil in heavy dutch oven to 365 degrees. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Beat
eggs with water in shallow bowl. Place AP flour and corn flour in
separate large plastic bags, mix with 1 T. each Cajun seasoning. When
oil is hot, toss half of the shrimp in AP flour, then in egg, then in
corn flour. Fry until golden brown and crisp. (It only takes a couple
minutes.) Remove shrimp and drain on hotel pan layered with double
sheets of paper towel. Place pan in oven. Repeat process with other
half of shrimp, making sure to first let oil come up to temp.
To assemble. Smear rolls with tartar sauce, add shrimp, lettuce, tomato. Cut in half. Let the good eats roll.
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