The Big Easy Beef Po’ Boys
Tradition says that the Po’ Boy was created as a free meal for the striking transportation workers during the labor strike of 1929 in New Orleans. It can be filled with anything from potatoes to shrimp or oysters, ham, and beef. All tucked inside a nice loaf of freshly baked French bread.
My research indicates that a lettuce and tomato Po’ Boy was free, but a beef one (beef was the original Po’ Boy) cost 5 cents. And that sandwich, 15 to20 inches in length, was enough to feed a striking worker’s family.
yellow onion, roughly chopped
white button mushrooms, stems removed, roughly chopped
garlic, peeled, and smashed
fresh italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly baked french rolls (baguettes, and batards work well)
hot sauce (i like frank's)
mustard (yellow or creole)
provolone cheese (optional)
Chef’s Note: This beef Po’ Boy sandwich is based on some research I did over the weekend, and my interpretation of what an original Po’ Boy might have tasted like way back in 1929, when it was first conceived.
The Po’ Boy of 1929 was a simple sandwich of beef, bread, and gravy. It came “dressed” (lettuce and tomato) or “plain.”
The one thing that I did discover is that the Po’ Boy sandwich of today, has been elevated to the status of Sainthood. And after making this version… I agree.
One of the essential parts of the Po’ Boy is the bread… you must have long sticks of French bread (I found that baguettes or batards works best).
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade, place the onion, mushrooms, garlic, and parsley. Blend until smooth, and set aside.
Season the beef with salt and pepper.
Add the vegetable oil to a large pot, and heat over medium high, until shimmering.
Add the beef roast, and sear on all sides, and then transfer to a plate.
Add the onion mixture to the pot and then simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid evaporates.
Add the beef stock, and stir; scraping up any brown bits (fonds) that are on the bottom of the pot.
Add the liquid to your slow cooker, and then add the beef roast, and any accumulated juices.
Cook until it’s fall-apart tender.
Chef’s Note: The temperatures on slow cookers are determined by the manufacture, and they do vary between models. My model, on high, took about 7 hours to get to the tenderness I wanted.
Tradition dictates that the roast should be so tender that it will fall apart with a hard stare.
Take a French roll (freshly baked would be excellent), and cut in half lengthwise.
Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom of the rolls, and then add a generous portion of the shredded beef.
Use a ladle to add some of the au jus to the beef.
Chef’s Note: The more au just you add the soggier the bread will be… I like mine REALLY soggy.
Lay some sliced pickles on top.
If you’re dressing your Po’ Boy, add some shredded iceberg lettuce, and some thinly sliced tomatoes.
Maybe a slice or two of provolone cheese (optional).
Serve them immediately, with the hot sauce on the side.
Chef’s Tip: Some people like a bit more body to the au jus, and you can accomplish by the addition of a blond rue. But you will need to do this before adding the shredded beef back into the liquid. I like mine thin; like a French Dip.
Chef’s Note: I like so much of the au jus that when I’m eating the sandwich, it’s falling apart in my hands, and the juice is running down my arms… but I don’t care.
Keep the faith, and keep cooking.