FRENCH FRY PO' BOY
This sandwich is an absolute mess, but it’s a crazy good mess. Fries, mushroom gravy, celery slaw and beet rémoulade. What more could you ask for? Probably an extra napkin or two. This recipe was inspired by reading about the history of po’ boy sandwiches and learning that one of the earlier versions during the depression was a potato and gravy sandwich. Apparently they’re still served in New Orleans. A few vegan versions do exist, though I haven’t been there recently to try one. Nonetheless, I have made a few different versions myself over the years, this being the one that stuck.
Though admittedly a messy sandwich, it’s pretty appetizing in appearance and certainly addicting after the first bite. Served on a light but crusty baguette, crispy, salty fries get smothered in a rich and herby mushroom gravy. It’s topped with a bright celery slaw that adds a welcome crunch. And lastly a sweet, tangy, and spicy beet rémoulade finishes things off. It’s kind of like a thanksgiving leftover sandwich but with a creole twist.
This is by no means a complicated sandwich, but I do have a couple of tips. The first is in regards to the bread. You want to find an approximately 8-inch baguette, but you don’t want the hard, chewy baguettes that are often in longer sizes. The bread should be soft but not too soft. A hero or sub roll is an okay substitute but lacks the crispy crust. I get my po’ boy bread from my local Vietnamese banh mi shop. For me, it’s the best facsimile to the bread I’ve had in New Orleans. My other tip is about the fries. You’re welcome to fry them however you prefer or even bake them, but I find that double frying them is best. The technique is pretty common and I describe it below, but essentially it means that you fry twice at different temperatures. The results are a crispier fry, which texturally works so much better on a sandwich.
French Fry Po’ Boy
Makes 4 sandwiches
-4 russet potatoes or 2 lbs., sliced into ½-inch sticks
-oil for frying
-3 tbsp olive oil
-½ onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic
-2 cups crimini mushrooms, diced
-¼ cup dry white wine
-2 cup vegetable stock or filtered water
-½ tsp dried thyme
-½ tsp dried sage
-¼ tsp dried rosemary
-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
-¼ cup filtered water
-salt and black pepper
-1 cup celery with leaves, stalks sliced very thin
-2 scallions, sliced very thin
-1 tbsp lemon juice
-1 tbsp olive oil
-salt and black pepper
-1 cup soy mayo
-¼ cup pickled beets, minced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tbsp creole mustard or spicy brown mustard
-1 tsp prepared horseradish
-4 8” sandwich baguettes, sliced and lightly toasted
1. Start with the slaw, which can be prepared ahead of time. Add all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Place in the fridge and allow to marinate for 30 minutes or so.
2. Next the gravy, which can also be prepared ahead of time. Put a frying pan over medium heat and then add the olive oil and the onions. Sauté onions for about 5-7 minutes or until they’re soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes more minutes or until they release their liquid. Add the white wine and stir, scraping the pan to release any bits that have stuck. Add the veggie stock, thyme, sage, rosemary and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. While the gravy simmers, prepare the rémoulade. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Place in the fridge until ready to use. Can be made ahead of time.
4. Back to the gravy. To a mixing bowl, add the flour and filtered water. Whisk to combine. Then add the mixture to your gravy to thicken it, being careful to thoroughly whisk it in to avoid lumps. Adjust seasoning to taste and remove from heat.
5. Finally, make the fries. You can prepare them however you like, but my preferred method is to double fry them. Put enough oil into a dutch oven to reach at least 2-3 inches in depth. Using a thermometer, bring oil to 325 degrees. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pot, fry potatoes for about 5 minutes or until they just start to turn golden. Raise temperature of oil to about 375 and fry a second time for about 2-3 minutes or until you get a deeper browning and they’re nice and crispy. Toss in a bowl with salt to taste.
6. To assemble the sandwich, start with as many fries as you can pack onto the bottom side of the bread. Top with a good ladle full of gravy. Spread a layer of rémoulade on the top piece of bread and then pack in the slaw. Serve immediately while fries are still hot and crispy.