No French Bread? No Problem. Use A Hoagie Roll For Your Po'boy Sandwich

The po'boy, while it's one of New Orleans' best-known foods (and it has many competitors, from bananas Foster to beignets), has undergone a few changes over the past century or so. Legend has it that this half-loaf of bread, split and stuffed with meat scraps, was created in 1929 to feed striking streetcar workers, but that account seems to be as apocryphal as most food origin stories tend to be. The creators of the po'boy may have fed workers for free during the strike, but by this time they'd been selling po'boy-type sandwiches for a number of years.

Even the French bread used for this sandwich isn't what you might expect. Rather than being the classic French loaf, which is somewhat dense in texture, New Orleans-style baguettes have typically been lighter and squishier — just a tad more Wonder Bread-like, if you will — due to having a wetter dough. (This style of bread-making dates back to the days when wheat was an expensive import to the Gulf Coast region.) This means that if you're buying a baguette at a chichi boulangerie or supermarket bakery, it won't be quite the same, so there's really no reason you can't swap it out for something else if you wish. Notably, some sources suggest that hoagie rolls are one of the closest substitutes you can get for the traditional po-boy loaf from New Orleans' Leidenheimer Baking Company and Mashed developer Tynia Peay is going with this option for her 30-minute po'boy.

The po'boy can be customized in any number of ways

Peay is going with a filling of fried shrimp for her po'boy, to the extent that her recipe is actually a twofer since you can eat the fried shrimp on its own. You can also take the po'boy part and use that as a template for customizing your sandwich. The easiest tweak for a similar sandwich would be to go with frozen fried shrimp and just bake or nuke them for a headstart that will cut out most of the prep time. You could also go with a lighter version by sauteing the shrimp instead of breading and deep-frying it. To make an even more slimmed-down sandwich, you can even hollow out the bread and save the innards to make breadcrumbs for later use.

Shrimp, of course, is by no means the only possible po'boy filling. Other types of fried seafood such as oysters or soft-shelled crabs are equally delicious (if not more so), but the most traditional po'boy may actually be the kind made with sliced roast beef in gravy. Still other possible po'boy fillings include boudin; ham and cheese; meatballs, or even vegetarian options like tofu or fried green tomatoes with remoulade.