When I moved to California and got a taste of that fabulous weather, the gorgeous Pacific at my door and being surrounded by wine, I swore I would never come home to Louisiana. One day the umbilical cord snapped and I blame it all on that famous New Orleans sandwich, the shrimp po-boy, dressed with extra pickles. In all seriousness, one morning I woke up and thought if I didn’t get one soon, something deep in my genetic code was going to come unglued. I’d walk home to Domilise’s in the Irish Channel if I had to.
Thankfully I got a job in Lafayette and enjoy po-boys often, including slipping away to my home town on occasion (if you haven’t tried the roast beef with debris at Domilise’s, you’re missing out). Now, one of my favorite home boys and cookbook author, Todd-Michael St. Pierre, has published a homage to the sandwich, “The Southern Po-Boy Cookbook: Mouthwatering Sandwich Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans.”
Naturally, he offers a history of the unique sandwich on French bread — derived as a cheap alternative to lunches for striking streetcar workers — but the beauty of this cookbook is in the recipes. There’s everything from traditional oyster loafs and roast beef and gravy to the eclectic, such as a pain perdue, eggplant Parmesan and pecan-crusted trout meuniere po-boy. I’m getting so hungry just writing this.
If you’re interested in seeing St. Pierre in person he’ll be signing books at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, then from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Friends of the Cabildo’s 1850 House Museum Store, 523 St. Ann St. On Sunday, he’ll be sigining at 2 p.m. at Blue Cypress Books for the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival of New Orleans and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Copper Rooster Antiques & Gifts, 222 Lee Lane in Covington.
Here’s a recipe for “The Benny,” literally eggs Benedict served as a breakfast po-boy.
From "The Southern Po-Boy Cookbook”
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 or 4 eggs
1 (12-inch) loaf French bread, split and toasted
Canadian bacon or bacon strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Directions: In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels. To make the hollandaise sauce, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne and red wine vinegar in a
small saucepan over low heat. Turn the heat to medium, slowly add the butter, and whisk until the butter and the eggs are thoroughly blended. If the sauce separates, add 2 teaspoons of water and continue to whisk until it thickens.
To poach the eggs, bring a sauté pan (wide enough to accommodate all the eggs without crowding) of water (about 2 inches) to a simmer over medium heat until water temperature is 180 degrees, and add the white vinegar. The water should never boil. Crack an egg into a cup and carefully slide it into the liquid. Repeat quickly with the remaining eggs. Cook the eggs until the whites are firm and the yolks nearly done, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread a little of the hollandaise sauce on the bottom half of the toasted bread, and top with the bacon. When the eggs are done, remove them with a slotted spoon to drain the liquid, and place them over the bacon. Top with more hollandaise sauce, and sprinkle on the chives. Serve the top half of the loaf with butter, cane syrup, or your favorite jam or jelly.
Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” both from The History Press.