We are super-pumped to be a part of the po' boy menu at Chef Kelly English's brand-new restaurant, The Second Line. You see, my dad always told me, "Son, surround yourself with good sandwiches, and you can't go wrong!" Wait, maybe it was 'people' not 'sandwiches.' I forget!
Well, in either case, both things hold true here. When you go to The Second Line, you'll be surrounded by good sandwiches named after good people. There's the Johnny Snack that's inspired by Chef John Currence, and The Verno that's named for sports talk show host Chris Vernon, and The Besh BBQ Shrimp which is Kelly's mentor John Besh's own recipe. And lastly, there is a sandwich called The Chubby Vegetarian Mushroom Debris (pronounced day-bree), which is our recipe we developed and tested with Kelly. We feel blessed to be in such good company!
It all stared with a conversation with the chef. "I've never had a po' boy that was intended to be vegetarian, but still rang true," Chef English told us. "I don't want a sandwich that's been so gussied up it no longer resembles a po' boy," he continued."That's exactly what I want, and I know you are up to the task!"
With that vote of confidence, we got to work making lots and lots of sandwiches! First there was the Andoullie Eggplant Po' Boy, a sandwich stuffed with grilled and spiced eggplant which was a close runner-up, then there was the "K.O.," which was beer-battered king oyster mushrooms and sea beans. We briefly toyed around with the idea of using jackfruit, then got weirded out by the fact that it was a canned product.
So, we tried the same jackfruit preparation on mushrooms…bingo! I don't want to oversell it, but it really is amazing! Fresh portobello or crimini mushrooms are braised in red wine with celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. The mushrooms form their own meaty and flavorful broth during the braise, which is then spooned generously onto a pistolette and garnished with pickles, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
"A po' boy has to drip down your arm with the first bite," Kelly is fond of saying. So we wanted to deliver just that. It's a wonderfully messy thing! "What we ended up with," he said, "I couldn't be prouder of, and it is one of my first recommendations I make, to any type of 'vore: carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore." So, go and gather up some good people and surround yourselves with good sandwiches at The Second Line!
Here are a few insider tips. The filling itself is vegan, as is the bread, and there's no cheese on it, so the sandwich can easily be ordered without mayo -- if you are into that sort of thing. The O.G. po' boy from the menu can be made with the Chubby Vegetarian Mushroom Debris gravy, and that makes it a T.C.V.O.G. It comes with French fries piled on the sandwich -- if you are into that sort of thing.
The Chubby Vegetarian Debris Po Boy at The Second Line
Add the garlic, thyme, porcini, bay leaves, and red wine to the pot. Scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot, and cook until it looks dry, about 1o minutes. Add the stock, sliced portobellos, vinegar, tomato paste, and Worcestershire. Once the liquid starts to simmer, reduce to low heat, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. The liquid should have reduced significantly at the end of the cooking time. Serve heaped onto several French rolls garnished with pickles, sliced tomatoes, mayonnaise, Creole mustard, and cabbage. (Serves 6.)
*I slice the raw mushrooms about 1/8-inch thick on my meat slicer. I lay the mushrooms flat and slice disks. This way there are lots of large slices and tons of great bits and pieces.