New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp & Andouille Po‑Boy
"Cajun is country food by farmers and fisherman that arrived in Louisiana from Acadiana, Canada. " Chef Paul Prudhomme
According to John Mariani in his thoroughly researched book How Italian Food Conquered the World, New Orleans barbecue shrimp was created by Pascal's Manale restaurant when it opened in Uptown in 1913. The problem with the original, is it is never barbecued. It is cooked in a pan! We're going to make the classic pan-cooked "barbecue" shrimp honest, and grill them.
The Po-Boy is the New Orleans version of the sub/hero/hoagy sandwich. It starts with a foot long "stick" of "baguette" but half sticks of 6" are common. I put the word baguette in quotes because it is really nothing like the original from France. The crust is softer, and the interior is cottony. Most are loaded with a meat or two and "dressed", which means they are loaded with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayonnaise, thin sliced onions. For the meat, hot breaded and fried shrimp, catfish, oysters, crab, crawfish, and chicken breast are popular. Roast beef, sliced so thin that it crumbles and is called "garbage", with spicy whole grain Creole mustard is standard. But andouille, a spicy coarse ground Cajun pork sausage, and "barbecue shrimp" are killer, especially when teamed. Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll!
Makes. 6 (6") sandwiches.
Takes. 1 hour if you have to clean the shrimp and prepare the sauce.
2 batches New Orleans Barbecue Sauce
1/4 wedge of iceberg lettuce, sliced into thin strips
1 meaty tomato, chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 feet of soft crust French bread loaf
12" andouille sausage
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, and deveined
Special tools needed. Have a slotted spatula or spoon on hand. If you have smaller shrimp, use a grill topper to keep them from falling through.
About the shrimp. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp, but fresh are best and you should always try for shrimp from American waters. I look for Gulf shrimp. The larger the shrimp, the better because they take longer to cook and we want them on the grill as long as possible to get some smoke flavor. Before you go shopping, read my article on the Science of Shrimp.
About the beer. Go for a dark one like Abita Turbodog from New Orleans, or even a porter.
About the hot sauce. Use your favorite brand. Tabasco is from Louisiana, so it would be a good choice. If your andouille is hot, you might want to skip the hot sauce. If you are from New Orleans, crank up the heat!
About the onion. You can use a white or yellow onion if you wish.
Optional. A sprinkle of fresh cilanto is a nice touch at the end.
1) Prepare the barbecue sauce and warm it.
2) Cut the lettuce, tomato, and onions.
3) Cut the bread into 6 or 12" sections. Slice it lengthwise. Being careful to not ruin the crust, either press in the bread or pluck some out ti make canoes thatwill hold in the ample fillings. Grill the cut side of the bread over low heat until it starts to brown. Leave the lid open and watch that bread as if it was your last meal. A tiny bit of char is OK but don't let it burn, and it will burn if you turn your back, and if you walk away it will go up in flames.
3) Up the grill to about 325°F in the direct zone, about medium. Put the andouille on the grill over direct heat and roll it around until it browns and hits 160°F interior temp. Most of the time we overcook sausage on the grill, so use a thermometer for a change. Don't overcook if you want juicy sausage! Set aside and let it cool a bit, then slice it on an angle 1/4" coins.
4) Remember the shrimp must be peeled and deveined. Brush the shrimp with vegetable oil or melted butter to prevent sticking. If they are small, use a grill topper. Grill about three to four minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the shrimp. When one side turns pink and gets some grill marks, flip them. As soon as the interior of the shrimp is pearly and opaque throughout, and you may need to slice one to check, get them off the grill. Do not overcook.
7) Toss the shrimp in the warm sauce and coat. Add the sliced andouille into the bath. Spoon as many shrimp, sausage slices, and some sauce onto the bread. Top with lettuce, tomato, and sliced onion. Have plenty of napkins on hand.