Saturday, November 2, 2013

Deep Fried Mushroom Po' Boy with Spicy Remoulade:

The Vegetarian Peacemaker

I have been wanting, nay, needing to make a Po' Boy for a while now. Back in my carnivore days, my wife and I took a trip to New Orleans for the Heritage Jazz Festival. We went there for the music and let me tell you, music is what we got. After the Jazz Fest ended each day, we had tickets to see shows at the various clubs around town. One show we bought tickets for started at 3:00 am. That's right, 3:00 am. It ended around 5:00 am so we hit Bourbon Street for a night cap. We rolled into our hotel at about 6:30 am for a few hours of sleep, then into the cab and off to the Jazz Fest to do it all over again. 

Being the natural born foodie that I am, trying the different foods and restaurants that New Orleans had to offer was, for me, equally as important as the festival. Some of the most amazing dishes that I've had in my life were eaten at that festival, the French Quarter and the various neighborhoods within the city. The combination of kick-ass music and food that was cooked with such passion made that city one of my favorites place on Earth. I feel this almost umbilical connection to the place. Man, I just got goose bumps. One this is for certain, I will return again someday.

Spending all day at the Jazz Festival sure did make a dude hungry. One of the many things I ate on our trip was a Po' Boy sandwich. As with many older dishes, there always seems to be debate as to how they actually came to be. One of the more popular and generally accepted versions goes like this. The sandwich was created, or at least named, by brothers Clovis and Bennie Martin in New Orleans in the late 1920's during a four month long union strike of the local streetcar workers. Having come from that line of work prior to opening their coffee shop, the Martins had much sympathy for the striking workers who were struggling to feed their families during this hard time. As a way of helping their former colleagues, the Martins decided to give free sandwiches to all the striking workers that came into the shop. Bennie Martin later said that when they would see a striking employee coming in, they would say "Here comes another Poor Boy". And the name just kinda stuck. 

As for the term The Peacemaker, or in French, La Mediatrice. That came from the Po' Boy's predecessor, which was basically the same type of sandwich. It was typically filled with fried oysters. It got it's name from the fact that husbands, returning home from a night of carousing and general debauchery, would often bring this sandwich home as a sort of peace offering in hopes that the lady of the house wouldn't bust them over the head. One thing I can tell you is that if I was out engaging in that sort of activity and had the balls to come home and give my wife a sandwich as retribution, I would have fried oysters up my nose as well as other choice bodily cavities. I could see it now. "Hey babe, I was out gettin' drunk and doin' hookers. Here's a sandwich."  My, times have changed. If it were only that easy. 

Although there are many different types of main fillings, it seems to me the more popular ones are that of little fried nuggets of goodness. If that's not entirely accurate, at the very least, it's the one I like best. That being said, that was the direction I have opted to take in this matter. The inspiration for this recipe was taken from a menu I recently saw for a local restaurant featuring a fried mushroom Po' Boy. I haven't been there yet so I cannot comment on it's greatness. But I was so immediately struck by excitement when I merely read the name, I just had to do it myself.  

This recipe is a combo of several found along the World Wide Web. The remoulade was adapted from this one. The fried mushrooms were adapted from this one. The assembly and additional fillings of the sandwich were taken from tradition.

TIP: The remoulade really benefits from time. You must let the sauce marry for a minimum of one hour. But if you can possibly let it set in the fridge for a day or two, it gets that much better.

TIP: As I have stated in other posts, my wife is "ooked out" by mushrooms. As much effort as I have invested in the endeavor of changing her mind, I have only has been met with staunch resistance. I have officially "rolled over" in this matter. No further efforts to convert her will be attempted. If this were The Spanish Inquisition, she'd have died honorably. As such, feel free to use other veggies. For her, I used medallions of zucchini. She loved it. I can also imagine broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.   

Deep Fried Mushroom Po' Boy with Spicy Remoulade


Spicy Remoulade: 

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 2 tsp Creole mustard (or whole grain mustard if you can't find Creole)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (like this one)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Deep Fried Mushrooms:

  • 15 - 20 cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cool water
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 quart peanut oil (or vegetable oil if you prefer)

For the sandwich:

  • 1 French baguette
  • 2-3 cup shredded romaine lettuce
  • tomatoes, sliced


1. Combine all remoulade ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. 

2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors marry. Ideally, let it sit overnight or longer. 

3. Wash the mushrooms under cool water then dry them over a clean towel. Then cut them into bite-sized pieces. If they are small, halve them and if they are large, quarter them. 

4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, water, baking powder, salt, garlic, cayenne and black peppers. Stir batter until smooth.

5. In a separate medium bowl, add the bread crumbs. 

6. In an assembly line fashion, dip the mushrooms, one by one, into the batter. Then place the battered mushrooms into the breadcrumbs to coat. Finally, place the battered and breaded mushroom pieces onto a plate.

7. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan until it reaches a temp of 350° F. Don't go over that because you don't want to burn your oil. 

8. Add the pieces a few at a time to oil being careful not to overcrowd the pot. I usually do about 8-9 at a time. Let them fry for a period no longer than 2 minutes. If you fry them too much longer than that, the mushrooms themselves become mushy so keep at or below 2 minutes. Once done, drain them on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. 

9. Cut the baguette open and tear out a bit of the inner bread to create grooves in the top and bottom of the roll. Don't take out too much of the bread, you just want to take enough to cradle your fillings. 

10. Fill the roll with the tomato, lettuce, fried mushrooms, and top the mushrooms with the remoulade sauce. 

Makes: 4 sandwiches

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