The po’ boys we serve in the restaurant are a variation on the Louisiana staple, the name being a contraction of its original name, ‘poor boy’. In that neck of the woods, you might also find them filled with roast beef, and typically they’re served on a baguette — a French influence from New Orleans. We serve ours on house-made English muffins, with coleslaw. Make a start on this recipe the day before serving, as the oysters need a good long buttermilk soaking.
Hartsyard hot sauce
- 200 g (7 oz) long red fresno chillies
- 200 g (7 oz) brown onions, halved
- 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) white vinegar
- 100 g (3½ oz) sea salt
- 100 g (3½ oz) garlic cloves
- 100 g (3½ oz) unsalted butter
Hartsyard seasoned flour mix
- 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) self-raising flour
- 30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
- 100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) tapioca flour (it is less greasy than wheat flour)
- 1½ tbsp sea salt
- 60 g (2¼ oz/½ cup) onion powder
- 60 g (2¼ oz/½ cup) garlic powder
- 60 g (2¼ oz/½ cup) Old Bay Seasoning (see Note)
- 2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp celery salt
- 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk
- 35 g (1¼ oz) butter, chopped
- 4 tsp dried yeast
- 2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 egg
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/3⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) polenta (cornmeal), for dusting (preferably the real stuff, not the ‘instant’ variety)
- 50 ml (1½ fl oz) canola oil
- ¼ green cabbage
- 4 small brown pickling onions, peeled, topped and tailed
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 4 tbsp chopped chives
- ½ batch of Old Bay mayo (see below)
Old Bay mayo
- 2 egg yolks
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) champagne vinegar
- 1 tbsp smooth dijon mustard
- 600 ml (21 fl oz) canola oil
- 2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 tbsp white miso paste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 large Pacific oysters, shucked
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) buttermilk
- 1 tbsp Hartsyard hot sauce, plus extra to serve
- 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- ¼ batch of Hartsyard seasoned flour mix
- 4 English muffins, halved, lightly toasted and buttered
- ¼ batch of coleslaw
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead.
You will need a Japanese mandoline, hooded barbecue and 250 g (9 oz) oak food-grade woodchips (never use chunks or pellets).
To make the Hartsyard hot sauce, on a barbecue with a lid, lay out half the chillies and half the onions, leaving enough space to house a black cast-iron pan. Place the empty cast-iron pan on the stovetop until ridiculously hot (roughly 5 minutes on full heat).
Meanwhile, in a 3 litre (105 fl oz/12 cup) stockpot, combine the remaining chillies and onions, the vinegar, sea salt and garlic. Bring to a slow simmer, never allowing the mixture to boil. When the cast-iron pan is at smelting temperature, cover the bottom with at least 1 cm (½ inch) of oak chips. Leave until the chips start to smoulder and smoke (almost instantaneous) — they should never ignite.
Move the cast-iron pan to the barbecue very carefully, then close the barbecue lid and leave to smoke. If the chips are still smoking after a minimum of 20 minutes, let them go until they’re finished; but if they’re done, place the whole smoked vegetables in the simmering stockpot (which by now should have been bubbling away for 30 minutes).
Simmer for a further 30 minutes, ensuring the mixture never boils. After 1 hour of total cooking, remove the stockpot from the heat.
Stir in the butter, then wrap the top of the hot container with plastic wrap to form a seal. Leave at room temperature for 48 hours.
After 2 days, blend all the ingredients until they’re smooth enough to strain through a colander. This should remove large chunks, leaving behind a fine pulp.
Transfer to sterile bottles or airtight containers and refrigerate until required; the sauce will easily keep for a week or two.
To make Hartsyard seasoned flour mix, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl; whisk until thoroughly combined.
To make the English muffins, preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F).
Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until the butter has melted, then pull the pan off the heat and cool the mixture to room temperature.
Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric stand mixer, then add the yeast and sugar and mix until dissolved. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, to allow the yeast to activate; it should become frothy. Add the egg and flour, then beat until smooth and homogenous.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with the polenta. Knead the dough by hand for 2 minutes, dusting with extra polenta if it gets too sticky.
Roll the dough out to a thickness of 2 cm (¾ inch), then cut out 12 rounds, using a 5.5 cm (2¼ inch) round cutter. Place the rounds on a baking tray dusted with polenta.
Heat the canola oil in a cast-iron frying pan over medium–low heat. Working four at a time, pan-fry the dough rounds for about 1½ minutes on each side, or until golden brown delicious on both sides, returning each batch to the baking tray.
When all the rounds have been pan-fried, pop the tray in the oven and bake the muffins for 10–12 minutes, or until they crack slightly around the circumference. (The baking off is just to ‘finish’ the muffins, as they have already been cooked during pan-frying.)
The muffins are best enjoyed the same day, but can be doused in butter and toasted in the oven again a couple of days later, if there are any left by then. (This recipe makes 12 muffins.)
To make the coleslaw, cut the cabbage in half against the grain; using a mandoline, shred the cabbage lengthways into 2 mm strands. Shave the onions into rings the same thickness as the cabbage.
Insert the julienne attachment into the mandoline, then shave the carrot diagonally.
In a bowl, toss the cabbage, onion, carrot and chives by hand until evenly distributed. Just before serving, spoon in the mayo to suit your taste. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve. (This recipe serves 6.)
To make the Old Bay mayo, In a blender or food processor, combine the egg yolks, vinegar, mustard and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth.
With the motor running, slowly pour in the canola oil until the mixture thickens. If it’s too thick, add another 2 tablespoons of water — the mixture should be homogenous, with a thick, creamy texture.
Transfer to a bowl and mix in the Old Bay Seasoning and miso paste. Dip your finger in to taste, then season with the lemon juice and some sea salt if necessary. A crack of black pepper wouldn’t go astray. The mayo will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. (This recipe makes 700 g/1 lb 9 oz.)
To assemble, place the oysters in a bowl. Add the buttermilk and hot sauce and stir to combine. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
Remove the oysters from the buttermilk and drain on paper towel. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
Coat the oysters with the seasoned flour mix, then fry in the hot oil until golden brown and crisp on the outside, but still soft and creamy inside — about 45–60 seconds on the first side, and another 30 seconds on the second side. Remove and drain on paper towel.
To serve, place a hot oyster on a muffin base, add a spoonful or two of coleslaw and top with the muffin lid. Serve with some more hot sauce.
• An American herb and spice mix, primarily used in Southern US cuisine. I've made my own when my shipment didn't arrive in time, using a mix of celery seeds, salt, red and black pepper and paprika, and no one knew the difference. But I did. I think McCormick must put fairy dust in theirs – it's that good! Look for it in spice stores, or buy it online.
Recipe and image from Fried Chicken and Friends: The Hartsyard Family Cookbook by Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart (Murdoch Books, $49.99, hbk). View our Readable Feasts review and more recipes from the book here.