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Monthly Archives: April 2019

The overlooked art of the PoBoy

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
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.

Take advantage of Okra Season

Walking around the farmer’s market, I noticed some wonderful looking fresh okra. With the weather starting to get cooler, my thoughts turn to making gumbo. In Africa, okra is also known as gumbo. I know that my wife is waiting for that first pot to come off the stove.

I then started thinking of other dishes that you can put okra in. I have seen it used in salads, as a side dish and included in a entrée recipe. Often, I have found a pickled okra as a garnish in a Bloody Mary, a spicy tomato juice drink made with or without alcohol. So, to take advantage of this versatile plant, here are a couple of non-gumbo dishes highlighting okra.

This dish can be served as either a side dish or as a entrée. As a side dish, there is no need for the rice. Either way, it is a tasty dish that is welcomed on my dinner table anytime.

Smothered Okra with Shrimp and Andouille

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil, divided
1 pound fresh Okra, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Onion, choppednju
1/2 cup Red Bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons Garlic, minced
1/2 pound Andouille, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 (12 ounce) jars Roasted Red Peppers, drained and puréed
2 cups Seafood Stock
1 ( 6 ounce) can Tomato Paste
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne
1 pound medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 cups cooked Rice

In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium-high heat. Add okra, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes, remove okra, and set aside. In the same pan, add remaining 1/4 cup of oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sausage and cook until the sausage is browned. Stir in puréed peppers, stock, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture boils. Stir in okra, simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until pink and firm. Serve over rice.

This is a take on a classic New Orleans recipe. I think that okra and tomatoes are a match made in heaven. The addition of okra to Chicken Creole brings this dish to a whole new level in flavor.

Chicken Creole with Okra

1 stick Butter
6 Chicken Leg or Breast Quarters
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 bunch Green Onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
1 large Onion, finely chopped
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 (8 ounce) can Tomato Sauce
4 cups Water
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, chopped
2 pounds whole fresh small Okra
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Hot cooked Rice or Noodles for serving

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven. Add the chicken and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side. Remove from the pan.

Stir the flour into the drippings over low heat. Cook for approximately 10 minutes until you have a light brown roux. Add the green onions, onion and garlic, and continue cooking over low heat until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the water, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid simmers. Add the chicken to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Lay the okra across the top of the chicken. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, or until both the chicken and okra are tender. Stir lightly with a fork to avoid breaking the okra. Remove the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice or noodles.

Okra is a wonderful addition to many dishes and remember, It’s not just for gumbo.

Dish to warm body soul

I don’t have many regrets when it comes to the kitchen. I am not afraid to try different things or cook in different kitchens. My biggest kitchen regret was that I was never able to cook with or eat food prepared by my father-in-law, Wesley Anderson.

I have been told by my in-laws that he and I would have gotten along great. They tell me that he made the best Jambalaya and Redfish Courtbouillon. I always joke back by saying that he makes the second best of those dishes. That remark always brings me dirty looks.

My father-in-law was a fixture in the Lions Club in New Orleans. It is for there meetings and fundraisers that he would put on his apron and please everyone with his tasty creations. I know that his jambalaya recipe is still floating around, although the recipe is scaled to serve 100 people. I am not sure if his Redfish Courtbouillon recipe has been saved.

My wife tells me that when it came to cooking, her dad would dirty every pot in the house and leave the kitchen looking like it was hit by a hurricane. She is thankful that I have spent many years working in restaurant kitchens. In the restaurant, you are taught to clean as you go. The reasoning is two-fold. One, a clean station keeps you from getting unnecessary things on the bottom of the plates that are being served. Secondly, by cleaning as you go, you have less to clean up at the end of the night when you are ready to go home. Since my wife cleans the kitchen after we eat, she is happy that the kitchen is mostly cleaned before she starts.

Redfish Courtbouillon (cou-be-yon) is found on many menus in New Orleans and the surrounding area. It is a great meal when the weather starts to turn cool. The Red Fish or Red Drum are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a medium dense, light meat with a mild to moderate flavor. If you can’t find Red Fish, it can be replaced with Catfish, Cod, Grouper or any like fish. Here is my homage to my father-in-law Wesley Anderson.

2 1/2 pounds Redfish Fillets, cut into chunks 2-3 inches wide
1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Butter
2 teaspoons Green Onions, chopped
2 cups Onions, chopped
1/2 cup Celery, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 large can Tomatoes, drained reserving the liquid
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 teaspoon Marjoram
1/4 teaspoon Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Hot Sauce, not Tabasco
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Seafood Or Chicken Stock
Hot Cooked Rice

In a heavy pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add the flour and cook for ten minutes or golden brown, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and stir in the green onions, onions, celery and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring often. Add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for three more minutes. Stir in the marjoram, basil salt, pepper, thyme, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly stir in one cup of the reserved tomato liquid and the stock. Simmer for five minutes. Add the redfish and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Serve over hot rice.

With the fall weather soon to be upon us, this wonderful dish is welcome to warm your body and soul. And thanks to Wesley for giving me my most precious gift, his daughter Peggy.

Mirliton are Louisiana staple

When we first moved to Searcy from New Orleans, my wife asked if I could buy mirlitons locally. Since I know that outside of Louisiana, they are known by other names. Here in Arkansas, they are known by their common name of Chayote or Vegetable Pear. Of course, they are available in the produce section of the grocery store. They belong to the gourd family, along with melons, cucumbers and squash. They are a good source of Vitamin C.

Mirlitons are often par-cooked and scooped out of their shells. Then you add other ingredients, stuff them back into their shell, then cook them in the oven. Today, I have included two recipes, one in which the mirliton is the main dish and the other as a side dish. You will often find mirlitons as a side dish around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving.

Seafood Stuffed Mirlitons is one of my most popular recipes. Twice, it was featured in the weekly newsletter of Louisiana Kitchen and Culture magazine. It was in the top ten viewed recipes on their website for the years of 2011 and 2012. This classic preparation uses the wonderful bounty of the waters that surround Louisiana, Shrimp and Crabmeat. You can often find this dish on many New Orleans restaurant menus.

Seafood Stuffed Mirlitons

8 Mirlitons, medium sized
1 1/2 pounds Shrimp, peeled, deveined and roughly chopped
1/4 pound Ham, diced
1/2 pound Crabmeat, picked thru for shells
1 stick Butter, divided
1 3/4 cups Onions, minced
1/3 cup fresh Parsley, minced
1/3 cup Green Bell Peppers, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, minced
2 Bay Leaves
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
2 Eggs, beaten
2 cups Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Place the mirlitons in a large saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Remove mirlitons from the water and allow to cool on a platter until easy to handle. Cut the mirlitons in half, then remove the pit and scoop out all of the pulp. Reserve the shells and set the meat aside. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions, parsley, bell pepper, garlic, thyme and bay leaves in 2 tablespoons of the butter for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, ham, crabmeat, Creole seasoning and mirliton meat. Stir occasionally and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and vigorously stir in the beaten eggs. Add enough breadcrumbs to bind it all together.

Divide the stuffing among the mirliton halves, sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs on top and use the remaining 6 tablespoons of the butter to dot the top of each. Bake, in the oven preheated to 350℉ until the crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Here is a way to prepare Mirlitons as a side dish. You can experiment by using other cheeses or seasoned breadcrumbs. A good twist is to replace the Parmesan with Romano cheese. Either way, it is a tasty accompaniment to any meal.

Mirlitons au Gratin

3 large Mirliton
7 tablespoons Butter, divided
2 cups Onions, chopped
1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
2 cups grated Parmesan Cheese, in all
1/2 cup Unseasoned Breadcrumbs

Boil the mirlitons in a pot of salted water for 30 minutes, drain and cool. Cut each mirliton in half, remove the pit and scoop out the pulp, leaving the shells intact. Mash pulp and set aside. In a large skillet, heat 5 tablespoons of the butter. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Stir in mirliton pulp and Creole seasoning and cook for two minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the Parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 350℉. Stuff filling into shells. Top with 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining butter, breadcrumbs and the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Mirlitons are a Louisiana staple that is always welcome at the dinner table. Just don’t be surprised when people outside of Louisiana don’t understand what you are looking for when you ask for mirlitons.

Veal more versatile

Veal is found on many New Orleans menus, not just the Italian restaurants. Veal is the meat of calves as opposed to beef, which is from older cattle. Veal contains less fat than beef, so you can get your red meat fix without all of the fat. For the longest, it was hard to get veal in Searcy. Now, you can find it at local grocery stores..

The most popular veal dish is Veal Parmesan. This Italian dish can be made by taking Panné Veal, topping with Mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoned Tomato sauce and melting the cheese in the oven. Since many people already have a go to recipe for Veal or Chicken Parmesan, today I will share with you two quick but memorable veal recipes.

This traditional New Orleans dish is often requested around my house. It is a simple dish to prepare but don’t let the ease of preparation fool you. It is a delicious dish that lends itself to adding a sauce over it. You can top this with a Cream of Crawfish sauce or Shrimp Étouffée.

Panné Veal

8 3-once sliced Veal
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
2 Eggs, beaten
3/4 cups Seasoned Breadcrumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Olive Oil
Fresh Parsley, chopped

Pound the veal with a meat tenderizer between two pieces of plastic wrap until each piece is doubled in size. In a large shallow platter, mix the flour and Creole Seasoning together. In another platter, mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together. Lightly dust the veal in the flour. Dip the veal in the egg, shaking off the excess. Dredge the veal through the breadcrumb mixture, shaking off the excess. Heat about 1/2-inch of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. To check to see if the oil is ready, throw in a pinch of the breadcrumbs. If it starts to fry quickly, you are ready to cook. Cook the veal, not crowding the pan, for about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Garnish with parsley when serving.

This classic dish is found on the menu in most Italian restaurants. Marsala wine is produced around the city of Marsala on the Italian island of Sicily. The sauce is made by reducing the wine to almost a syrupy consistency and adding mushrooms. Some recipes add heavy cream but I usually don’t. You can also use this sauce with other meats. Chicken Marsala is very popular and locally you can find a Ribeye Marsala.

Veal Marsala

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound Veal Medallions, pounded thin
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
Creole Seasoning to taste
1 large Shallot, minced
1 pound fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Dry Marsala Wine
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Beef Stock
2 tablespoons Butter

Preheat oven to 200℉.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the veal medallions with flour, and season with Creole seasoning. Cook in the heated skillet about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Remove from skillet, place in a baking dish covered with foil, and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallots and mushrooms, scrapping up any browned bits, until the shallots are tender. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the Marsala and garlic. Cook and stir until thickened. Mix the stocks into the skillet, and continue to cook and stir until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat, and whisk in the butter until melted. Serve over the veal.

Both recipes can be made with chicken in place of the veal. While either dish made with chicken will be delightful, veal brings these recipes to a different level.