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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

The overlooked art of the PoBoy

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

The sandwich is often an overlooked meal. Since it is simple to put meat, cheese and condiments between two pieces of bread, sandwiches are often thought of as something people on a budget eat for lunch. However, a nice hot sandwich will make a wonderful meal.

Sandwiches come with many names, Hoagies, Subs, Grinders, etc. Of course, most people have heard of the New Orleans version, the PoBoy. The most common PoBoy is made with Fried Seafood. I have many memories of Fried Shrimp or Fried Oyster PoBoys. How did the PoBoy get its name you may ask?

The most common origin dates back to 1929. There was a four month strike of the streetcar workers. Benny and Clovis Martin, both former streetcar conductors, owned a restaurant downtown. They would feed their striking brethren with sandwiches for free. Overtime one would walk into the restaurant, the workers would say, here comes another one of those Poor Boys. Soon the sandwiches took on the name. It eventually was shortened to Po’Boy or PoBoy.

A PoBoy can be made with any meat. A popular PoBoy from days past was the French Fry PoBoy. This is made by replacing the Roast Beef with French Fries and topping it with Beef Gravy. This sandwich cannot be found these days. For some reason, none of the sandwich shops will make it.

Another popular PoBoy is the Peacemaker. This is the sandwich that one would bring home to your wife after a disagreement. The Peacemaker is a Fried Oyster PoBoy, one of the best PoBoys you can eat. You can make a Peacemaker by replacing the roast beef and gravy in the recipe below with Fried Oysters. Add ketchup and hot sauce and you have one of the best bites between two pieces of bread.

If you are in new Orleans, pick up some French Bread. The French bread there is more airy on the inside and crisper on the outside. My favorite brands of New Orleans French bread is Leidenheimers and Gambinos.

The following recipe is for a Roast Beef PoBoy. Once a week, in high school, we were served a Roast Beef PoBoy for lunch. Accompanied by a homemade cinnamon roll, it was the best lunch at the school.

2 pounds Roast Beef, sliced thin

For the Gravy 3 to 5 cups Beef Stock 1/2 cup Flour 1 tablespoon Granulated Garlic 1 tablespoon Granulated Onion 1 teaspoon Black Pepper 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet

Bring 3 cups of the stock to a boil in a small saucepan. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic, onion, pepper and salt. Whisk in the oil and kitchen bouquet. When thoroughly blended, whisk the mixture into the boiling stock, whisking together well. Bring to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. If necessary, add more of the stock if the gravy is too thick. Let the gravy simmer for 20-30 minutes then adjust the seasoning to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350℉.

Lay the slices of beef in a 9×9-inch baking pan. Cover the beef with 2-3 cups of the gravy. Place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the beef is falling apart tender.

Making the sandwich 4 6-inch pieces of French Bread Mayonnaise 2 Tomatoes, sliced 2 cups Shredded Iceberg Lettuce 1 Dill Pickle Sliced Roast Beef

Slice the bread in half lengthwise and lay both halves side by side. Slather a bunch of mayonnaise on both sides. On the top half, add pickle slices, tomato slices and lettuce. On the bottom half add 1/4 of the beef and gravy mixture. Fold the top over the side with the beef and put on a sheet pan. Place the sheet pan on the oven for 2-3 minutes to crisp and warm the bread.

The best Roast Beef PoBoys are messy to eat. Make sure you have plenty of napkins. And maybe a bib.

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