Authentic Po' Boy Bread Is Elusive, But There's An Easy Way To Mimic It

New Orleans is known for a slew of good food, from warm and comforting gumbo to fluffy, sugar-topped beignets. But no trip to the Big Easy is complete without biting into a good old-fashioned po' boy. The stacked sandwich originated in Louisiana nearly 100 years ago during a streetcar conductor strike in 1929 (which is how it got its "poor boy" moniker) and has been a local staple ever since.

The original po' boy sandwiches were made using inexpensive but hearty ingredients meant to stick to the ribs of striking workers, ranging from gravy-soaked roast beef to fried potatoes or fried shrimp. These days, you'll find much of the same variety when it comes to the sandwich's fillings, but one aspect of an authentic po' boy has remained universal: the all-important bread. Whether packed with roast beef or seafood, any classic po' boy sandwich worth its salt comes served on traditional New Orleans-style French bread. Although the oval loaves may resemble your typical sub rolls, they have a light and crispy crust with a pillowy soft middle. The interior is less dense than a regular baguette due to the "wet" dough, which is made with less flour and more water than other types of bread. The result is a fluffy center that's particularly suited to hold robust fillings and soak up a good amount of juices and sauces — an essential feature if you're looking for the perfect bite.

How to turn a regular sub roll into po' boy bread

While you're practically guaranteed to get your sandwich served on real-deal po' boy bread whenever you're in NOLA, the key ingredient is a bit more difficult to come by once you leave Louisiana's borders. Luckily, there's an easy way to mimic that elusive French roll — and no, it doesn't require baking your own loaf.

All you need to do is make a few tweaks to a regular sub sandwich bread (a.k.a. a hoagie roll), which you can find at most grocery stores and bakeries. Indeed, it is already the right shape and size to do the job, but the key is achieving a comparable texture. First, you'll need to crisp up the roll's soft crust to give it that signature flaky crunch of a po' boy roll. You can easily do this by lightly toasting your sub roll in a toaster oven or conventional oven — just a few minutes should do the trick. Then, you'll need to thin out the sub roll's dense interior by scooping out much of the doughy filling. Once it has a lighter middle, the bread is ready to be filled with whichever po' boy ingredients you wish. Although it will be hard to compete once you've tried a sandwich on authentic New Orleans French bread, this simple hack will help you come as close as possible when whipping up a po' boy at home.