By 300 Sandwiches
One of them was my friend Jackie. We met years ago when she was working at Gourmet magazine and I was a reporter for Women’s Wear Daily. She was one of those people that I could sit with in a corner of a neighborhood bar or at a glitzy restaurant opening and communicate without saying a word. We could watch a party play out in front of us, spot a tragically dressed socialite or overhear an off-color comment, exchange a look between us and know exactly what each other were thinking. That’s a rare thing to have even between the closes of friends; people with whom you can share nonverbal communication are usually related to you.
As great a friend as she is, Jackie is also one of those people I’m almost afraid to cook for because I know she can seriously throw down in the kitchen. And her skills weren’t honed from just working at food magazines—she’s originally from New Orleans and her aunt owns a restaurant, so cooking good, flavorful food is just in her bones.
When I was planning my football viewing party for the NFL Championships yesterday, Jackie was the first I wanted to invite, even though her beloved New Orleans Saints got knocked out of the playoffs the week prior. Shrimp Po’ boys were one of her specialties, and she had promised for months to show me how they’re done. When she got to our place, I poured her a glass of white wine, then gave her full reign in the kitchen.
She deveined the shrimp, made a seasoned flour mixture and coated the shrimp with spicy flour while talking with my guy friends about Peyton Manning (fun fact:
she went to high school with him was in the same grade as him, but went a rival high school a few blocks away). Meanwhile, I had meat ready for pulled pork sandwiches by the time people arrived, but I was still working on cole slaw by the time her po’ boys were ready, set and served in 10 minutes. Why couldn’t I get my meals together that fast?
The po’ boys were gobbled up in minutes, but E argued that these did not count because Jackie cooked them, not me. I agree. I promised him I would remake them myself, per Jackie’s recipe. For now, I’ll leave the asterisk by the title to remind me that it doesn’t count until I remake it—which I better do before the Super Bowl in two weeks.
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 rolls or sandwich-sized baguette portions
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups flour
3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mayo
1 to 2 tablespoons tabasco sauce
Cut shrimp in half, and trim tails. Mix flour, black pepper, kosher salt and cayenne in a bowl, then pour into a large freezer bag. Season shrimp with a dash of hot sauce, then add shrimp to bag and shake well.
Heat vegetable oil, enough so there’s a 2-inch depth of oil, in large skillet. Fry shrimp in oil until brown and crispy, turning once, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let drain on paper towel lined plate.
Toast buns. Spread mayonnaise on one side of buns, ketchup on another. Line each bun with iceberg lettuce, then stuff shrimp inside. Sprinkle salt and pepper and a dash of tabasco sauce, and serve. Makes 4 to 6 po’ boys.