As you can tell from a number of our posts, we have always loved the customs, traditions and food (especially the food) of Louisiana and New Orleans. The spicy convergence of Cajun, Creole and Southern cultures that gives such dishes as crawfish étouffée, muffaletta, beignets and of course, the po’boy sandwich. Po'Boys are the perfect accompaniment to an ice cold beer.
During the extremely intense streetcar strike in 1929, 1,100 New Orleans railway workers walked off their jobs. A family of onetime streetcar workers pledged to feed their former colleagues at their sandwich and coffee stand. Whenever they saw a striking worker, they would say “Here comes another poor boy.” The sandwiches took on the name in the vernacular “po’boy,” and soon became a New Orleans favorite.
There are many variations of po’boy sandwiches: fried seafood, chicken, ham, and the ever popular roast beef, also known as a "debris" (pronounced DAY-bree) po’boy. Roast beef is made into debris by cooking the beef roast until it "falls apart with a hard look," and then cutting it into shreds. The shreds are placed back in the pot to absorb every bit of liquid and seasoning imaginable and flavor the ever-important gravy that drowns the sandwich when assembled and trickles down to your elbow when eaten!
- 1 3-4 lb. beef roast (chuck, bottom round, or rump)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup carrots, chopped
- ½ cup mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 12-oz. bottle of full-bodied beer
- 2-3 crusty French bread loaves, cut into 6-8” lengths
- 1 head crisp lettuce, finely sliced or shredded
- Mayonnaise (we use Duke’s)
- Louisiana Hot sauce (or your favorite hot sauce as desired)
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the fennel seeds and pepper together. Add to the salt, sugar and other spices in a small bowl. Rinse the beef roast and pat dry with paper towels, then coat the roast with spice mix. Next, in a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on high heat. Place the meat in the hot pan and sear on all sides in the hot oil until a nice brown crust is formed. Transfer the roast to a pan or platter.
Reduce heat to medium and add the onions, carrots and mushrooms stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the bay leaf, broth, and beer, and bring to a boil. Add the roast back to the pot, cover and place the Dutch oven in a 325o oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender.
Carve the meat into very thin slices, or pull apart with a large fork. Add all of beef back into the cooking liquid and skim the fat from the surface. Bring the gravy to a full boil to reduce the broth a bit. Let the meat simmer is the juices until ready to assemble your sandwiches.
Cut the French bread 3/4 of the way through leaving a hinge and slather both sides of the loaf with mayonnaise, stack on the debris (roast beef) using tongs and drown with gravy. Cover the beef with a pile of shredded lettuce and close the top (if you can.) Grab a bottle of hot sauce, a stack of napkins, cold beer and devour voraciously!