Friday night MiddleBar got started a bit early for the first pre season game! On the menu were our famous Shrimp and Oyster Po Boys.
The Poor Boy sandwich, most commonly known as the “Po-boy” is a New Orleans staple. The Martin brothers of Raceland, LA were the owners of small coffee shop in the French Market during the early 1920s and are credited for originally creating the po-boy. The Martin brothers were former streetcar conductors before they opened their shop in 1922 and during the transit strikes in 1929 the Martins were in full support of their union brothers. The Martin’s promised free meals to the unemployed transit workers and to meet the demand they started serving large sandwiches on French bread. Legend has it that when the men started coming in the brothers would say “here comes another poor boy” and the name just stuck.
|Martin's Original Letter To the Union|
Now anyone can make a sandwich but what sets the po-boy apart is the bread. Most po-boys in New Orleans are served on Leidenheimer Baking Company’s French bread, with its crispy crust and incredibly airy interior. Like New York bagels, French bread in New Orleans has a distinctive flavor due to water and humidity. Finding a proper substitute is difficult but a must if making a good po-boy. A baguette is not an appropriate replacement for traditional French bread. The bread should be light and crispy, not dense. Most grocery stores offer French rolls and Italian delis sometimes have a soft bread with a nice hard crunch. But if you’re desperate for your Leidenheimer fix, don’t worry, they’ll ship.
MiddleBar’s fried Shrimp and Oyster Po-boys are created in a style similar to that of local favorite Domalise’s Po-Boys in Uptown New Orleans. This dish is dedicated to Mrs. Dot and her fantastic sandwiches that I’ve been eating since I was a child. I think she would be proud!
1 lb headless raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-2 jars of raw oysters
1 cups of yellow corn meal
1 cup of flower
3-4 tablespoons of Tony Chachere’s Seasoning (to taste)
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher Salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic salt
1 cast iron skillet ½ filled with vegetable oil and flavored with ¼ cup of bacon grease (bacon bourbon grease where applicable)
In 1 large bowl mix dry ingredients (cornmeal, flower and seasoning mix). In the other bowl mix wet ingredients (cream, eggs, 2-4 dashes of crystal sauce, pinch of salt & pepper)
Double dredge shrimp and oysters in the egg wash then into the dry ingredients take a fork to cover and coat the shellfish with the flavored corn meal. Let stand for 2 minutes then carefully drop into extremely hot oil. Adding the shrimp too quickly will cause the oil to pop and increase the risk of burns so be careful! Add the shrimp in batches leaving enough room to flip ½ way through the cooking process. The temperature of the oil will drop when adding the shrimp so fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown to ensure that the shrimp are cooked through. Carefully remove shrimp from oil and leave to rest on a bed of paper towels while frying the next batch. Between the batches allow the oil to reheat but be careful not to burn it. (Since I already have the batter and hot oil I occasionally fry additional items such as pickles, green tomatoes, okra and pretty much anything else I can find)
While frying, prepare your bread and “dress” the po-boy with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and pickle. Once the fish are fried place them onto the sandwich cut in half and serve. I offer Crystal Hot Sauce and ketchup as additional dressings that guests can add at their discretion.
The ingredients of the po-boy are endless and throughout the city you will find everything from fried shellfish, boudin sausage, roast beef and even French fries with gravy. Try your own at your next NOLA gathering!