Sunday, December 27, 2009

Breakfast Po'Boy (Denver)

What Exactly IS a Po'Boy Anyway?

Ever heard of a Western Omelet Po'boy? Well, read on!

I grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi, and back before the casinos became central to tourism here it was a beach and resort party town, and back in the day the primary focus of weekends was centered around all night dancing and cocktails with friends at the clubs. It was pretty standard that we'd all end up in the wee hours of the morning at either the Waffle House or Mary Mahoney's Le Cafe (now gone thanks to Katrina) for coffee and a bite to eat before heading to the house.

Photo Credits: Mary Mahoney's
Mary Mahoney's Old French House is a complex located in the Vieux Marche Mall in Biloxi, Mississippi. Made into a restaurant in 1964, the original house is estimated to have been built sometime around 1737, making it one of the oldest homes in the country, and if my memory serves me correct it was at one point a plantation home, though I don't think that's mentioned much anymore seeing as everything's gotta be politically correct these days.

Le Cafe was an all night cafe that was located in the downstairs portion of the complex, where the pub and gift shop is. The cafe specialized in breakfast, beignets, café au lait, and po' boys and you could pretty much count on Fridays and Saturdays between midnight and 3:00 a.m. it would be packed with clubbers. Course that was all pre-casino days. Anyway, you could eat inside the cafe, in the pub, or even outside on the covered patio terrace, which we would often do on Sunday mornings over Bloody Mary's.

The upstairs formal dining section at the Mary Mahoney's complex is the actual French House Restaurant, and is located across the courtyard where yet another bar and the wine cellar both are. The restaurant was repaired and reopened after Hurricane Katrina, but sadly the downstairs cafe was not. I sure wish Bobby would've reopened the old cafe because it is loaded with memories and is sorely missed by many of us.

Anyway ... one of the things I used to love to eat as one of those late night/early morning meals, was something that wasn't even on the menu. A Denver po'boy.

Generally folks north of the Mason Dixon line have no idea what a po'boy really is but a short description is that it is a sandwich, made on French bread that, at least down here in Mississippi, is then put on a sandwich press and pressed down to produce a crunchy outside. You can click right here to read more about po'boys.

A Denver po'boy is simply a southernized Denver sandwich, or as it is sometimes called, a Western sandwich. Which is basically a western omelet served on bread, or in our case down here on po'boy bread, which is really just French bread. The names Denver and Western are often used synonymously, and though I don't know the true "rules," I consider a Denver to be an omelet with diced ham, onion and green bell pepper, though some folks do also add cheese & mushrooms - I don't. In my mind a Western contains all those same ingredients, but with the addition of cheese and tomatoes.

To make a Denver Po'boy, you need the ingredients for a Denver Omelet plus some french bread and butter. So chop up some green bell pepper, some onion and some ham. Split your french bread and spread some butter on that. Toast that bread in a hot skillet until the insides are nice and golden and well, toasty! Set that aside.

Now, put a tablespoon of butter in that same skillet and toss in the bell pepper, onion and ham and saute that until it's nice and soft. Now take 2 or 3 eggs depending on how much you want, beat 'em together, add a big splash of water, some salt and pepper and beat 'em some more. Pour that egg over the veggie mixture in the skillet and cook, lifting the edges occasionally so the uncooked egg on top will run under and cook. When cooked through, fold over both sides toward the middle and transfer to the french bread. Wait! You're not done yet.

Take that whole sandwich and place it into the same skillet, and toast, pressing gently down and turning several times, until nice and, well, toasty! Transfer to a plate, slice in half, give one half to your significant other (or not) and savor!

Note: Omit the ham and make this a Lent friendly po'boy!