Lunch Mardi Gras style: debris po’ boys

Shredded meat cooked in the slow-cooker on soft rolls with a Creole spread make a perfect po' boys Mardi Gras sandwich.

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    Po' boys sandwich is a classic New Orleans meal. Use as soft a roll as you can find to hold the shredded beef.
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Mardi Gras is upon us, so it’s time to talk Po’ Boys. Traditionally, the story goes, the Debris po’ boy (pronounced DAY-bree in this case) was made from the leftover bits and pieces left behind from carving a roast, soaked in the gravy and meat juices.

But I don’t generally have enough leftover roast beef to serve a crowd, and besides, debris is just too good to wait for leftovers. So I make this version in the slow cooker, to get the slow roasted flavor and lots of juices to turn into gravy. It is a very fun celebratory meal, letting everyone assemble their own po' boy.

The bread for a po’ boy is obviously a key part of the overall experience. In New Orleans, po’ boy bread is a thing unto itself – made by local bakeries it is soft in the center with a crust that is not overly hard or chewy. Outside Louisiana, it’s a little hard to find real po’ boy bread, so you have to do you’re best. I find typical French bread too chewy so I tend to go for a hoagie roll or Mexican bollilo rolls. If you have a bakery in the area that supplies rolls for a Vietnamese bahn mi place or a Vietnamese grocery, that version of French bread is pretty close. Split the rolls or loaves and lightly toast.

Recommended: 15 Mardi Gras recipes

Debris Po' Boys
Serves 8

4 stalks celery
3 carrots
2 onions
1 green bell pepper
10 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
5 pounds bottom round beef roast (in two pieces is fine)
Creole seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s)
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer [editor's note: this ingredient is optional]
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon corn starch
Creole Spread
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Creole mustard (I like Zatarain’s)
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Crystal)
6 French bread rolls or hoagie rolls
provolone cheese
shredded lettuce

1. Place the celery, carrots and onions in the bottom of an 8-quart slow cooker. Stem and seed the bell pepper and add it to the crock with the garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Generously coat both sides of the beef roast with creole seasoning, rubbing it into the meat.

2. Place the meat on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.

3. Pour in the beer [if using] and beef broth, cover and cook over low heat for 8 hours. Remove the meat from the slow cooker to a deep rimmed platter or bowl. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker through a strainer into a large saucepan. Discard the solids. Let the juices settle, then skim off the fat. Bring the liquid to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, until it is slightly reduced.

4. While the liquid is boiling, shred the beef. Cut away any fat or gristle, then use two forks to pull the meat into shreds.

5. Put the cornstarch onto a small bow and whisk in a few tablespoons of cooking liquid and whisk until completely smooth. Whisk the cornstarch mixture back into the juices and continue cooking for 2 -3 more minutes.

6. Rinse out the slow cooker crock and return the meat to it. Pour over the juices and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Creole Spread

1. Whisk together the mayo, mustard, honey and hot sauce. This can be done up to a day ahead, covered and kept in the fridge.

2. To serve, split the rolls and lightly toast on a cookie sheet in the oven. Spread on side of the bread with the creole spread. Use tongs to pile the beef onto the bread, then top the hot meat with a slice of cheese, then layer with shredded lettuce.

Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Mardi Gras potato salad

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