Make Your Own Crab Cake Po Boy
By Patrick Evans-Hylton
One of my favorite sandwiches is the Po Boy, a kind-of catch all term for a baguette stuffed with some type of meat – whether it’s beef, pork, poultry or seafood – and often dressed with the usual suspects of lettuce, tomato, pickles and a sauce.
During the first Golden Age of the Oyster in the late 19th century, the meat in these sandwiches was often oysters, and these treats were called Oyster Loaves. Sometime during the Great Depression, the term Po Boy came onto the scene, and with it other fillings: roast beef, Italian sausage, fried chicken breast, fried fish, and soft shell crab among them.
Where did the sandwiches make the leap from its loaf origins? Tradition says New Orleans - when these large, filling sandwiches were made and handed out for free to labor union members during a strike against the streetcar company. The strikers, upon taking the charity, jokingly referred to themselves as Poor Boys, colloquially shortened to Po Boys. Regardless of its history, I love this sandwich, and one of my variations I like to make and share with friends is a Crab Cake Po Boy.
At TASTE, I grab a half-dozen of Chef Thomas’ delicious crab cakes, a rustic baguette or two and a container of housemade Sassy Southern Pimento Cheese.
At home, I split the baguette in half, lengthwise, and lightly brush the cut sides with a little olive oil. I throw this, along with the crab cakes, either on the grill or on a grill pan and place in the oven under the broiler for just a few minutes to heat and turn golden.
Once out of the oven, I slather the pimento cheese on the bottom half of the baguette; while the bread is still warm, the cheese melts slightly and makes a delightful, defacto sauce.
On top of the cheese I sprinkle arugula, and on top of that place the crab cakes, laid slightly overlapping. There I put sliced tomatoes and a generous serving of my recipe of homemade quick pickles; the recipe is below. The meal is delicious, but importantly quick and easy, giving me more time to focus on my role as host and be with my guests.
TIP: For a great presentation, place the whole Crab Cake Po Boy on a large platter and surround it in a sea of Chesapeake Crab Potato Chips.
PEH’S REFRIGERATOR BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES
This recipe is from my book, Dishing Up Virginia, which is sold at all TASTE locations.
2 pounds Kirby or other pickling cucumbers, sliced 1⁄8 inch thick
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon celery seeds
1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Toss the cucumber, onion, and salt together in a large bowl. Transfer the cucumbers and onion to a large colander set over a bowl or in the sink and allow to drain for 1 hour, then rinse.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large saucepan and bring to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cucumbers and onions. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the pickles, onions, and liquid to a gallon-size glass jar. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least one day before using.
Stored in the refrigerator, the pickles will keep for 1 month.
(Yields 3 pints)
Patrick Evans-Hylton is TASTE’s resident foodie, hosting a number of delicious events throughout the year. The Johnson & Wales-trained chef and wine and cheese expert is an award-winning food journalist, covering tasty trends since 1995 in print, broadcast and electronic media. He is publisher of Virginia Eats + Drinks Magazine; subscribe free at www.facebook.com/VirginiaEatsDrinksMag