What We’re Cooking This Week: Hot Sausage Po’ Boy

Louisiana-style hot sausage is hard to find around here, but it’s easy to make.

Hot Sausage Po' Boy Photo by Jim Dixon.

Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.

If you’ve been to New Orleans, you probably had a po’ boy stuffed with fried shrimp, oysters, or juicy roast beef with debris gravy. But the Crescent City’s iconic sandwich takes many forms, and an often overlooked classic is the hot sausage po’boy. Thin patties of cayenne-spiked sausage (typically a beef-and-pork blend, but the all-beef Patton’s is also popular) are topped with melty American cheese and layered onto the region’s unique French bread—a light-colored, crisp-crusted, airy loaf that evolved because of the high cost of wheat in the South.

Louisiana-style hot sausage is hard to find around here, but it’s easy to make. You need to mix it up the day before to let the salt work its magic: a molecular dance with the meat protein called myosin that gives sausage its bouncy texture.

And while you can only get classic po’ boy bread from Louisiana bakeries like Leidenheimer’s or Gendusa’s, Vietnamese banh mi rolls make a perfectly good substitute—even new school joints like Killer PoBoys in NOLA use them. To fully dress your po’ boy, you’ll also need the proper accompaniments: dill pickle slices, tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. Even though the sausage packs a little heat, a few shakes of Crystal Hot Sauce are, for many, mandatory as well. Most New Orleanians add a squiggle of ketchup, too.

A note about salt and sausage: Most sausage formulas use 2% by weight of salt, and for a pound of meat that works out to about 1 tablespoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. The kosher-style sea salt at Wellspent Market has the same weight-to-volume ratio as Diamond, but if you use Morton kosher salt or even plain sea salt, you’ll need to weigh it. I have some issues with Diamond Crystal that you can read about here.

Hot Sausage Po’ Boy

Makes enough sausage for 4 po’ boys.

For sausage:

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon kosher-style sea salt (or 1/3 ounce other salt)

1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves finely chopped)

1-2 tablespoons cayenne or similar red pepper*

2 teaspoons black pepper

To complete the po’ boy:

Banh mi rolls

American cheese

Dill pickle slices

Sliced tomatoes

Shredded iceberg lettuce



Crystal Hot Sauce to serve

*To check the heat level, mix in 1 tablespoon of cayenne, then pinch off and cook a walnut-sized piece to taste.

You could use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of a Creole spice blend, such as Tony Chachere’s or Slap Ya Mama. Both are a blend of salt, garlic, red and black pepper. If you do, reduce the kosher salt to 2 1/2 teaspoons

Mix together meat, salt and spices. Knead thoroughly for a few minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

Make thin, oblong patties that fit the rolls using about 2 ounces (a chunk about the size of a walnut). Pan fry for a couple of minutes, then flip and top with pieces of American cheese cut to the same size as the patties. Let the cheese get melty, then remove from the heat.

Cut the rolls in half lengthwise. Spread the mayonnaise “wall to wall” so the bread is completely covered, then layer the pickles and tomatoes and add some shredded lettuce. Squirt a thin line of ketchup down the middle, add a few shakes of Crystal and top with the sausage patties. Place the other half of the roll on top, compress gently and cut in half. Have a pile of napkins ready, and lean over your plate as you eat; po’ boys are messy.

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