I hopped in a car last year with my boyfriend for a cross-country drive from Los Angeles to Atlanta. If you know me, you know the only reason I could ever last in a car that long is the promise of food.
The idea of delicious, uncharted territory thrilled me, from Tex-Mex in Arizona to tamales in Texas. I also mandated that we try barbecue in every state we drove through. (It was all in the name of research, I swear.) We hit Phoenix, El Paso, Houston, and more than a few shady truck stops along the way.
The final stop on our journey was the grand ol’ city of New Orleans. It was my boyfriend’s first time in the fabulous food town. I, on the other hand, had spent a bit of time there during college. I was determined to teach him the ropes of a well-fed veteran. I mean, where else is it perfectly acceptable to have a first and second lunch? But these are things that must be taught.
We spent two days devouring everything New Orleans had to offer: beignets at Café Du Monde, oysters at Acme and etouffée and jambalaya in between. But it was the last stop before we hit the road that proved the saying saving the best for last. Upon recommendation from our future landlord – a Louisiana native and avid Cajun cook – we headed towards Lake Pontchartrain and, more importantly, the restaurant R&O’s for some “world famous” Roast Beef Po’ Boys. Man oh man, he didn’t steer us wrong. Drippy, beefy, sloppy and saucy, all piled on top of classic po’ boy bread, it was truly a sandwich that dreams are made of.
I’ve been pining away for months to eat that soul-satisfying meal again. And since a trip back down to the Gulf isn’t in my near future, I decided to take on the task of making my own Roast Beef Po’ Boy recipe. The sandwich turned out to be quite easy; it just requires some time, a little patience and a lot of love.
And while it may not be exactly like the original (as we all know, most recipes never quite meet the expectations of a memory), these sandwiches wowed the crowd of hungry guys that devoured them. In fact, I think I’ll go have another one right now.
Until next time, New Orleans …
Roast Beef Po’ Boys Recipe
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 5 hours
Yields: 6 – 8 sandwiches
For the roast beef:
3 pounds bottom beef round
Canola or safflower oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
For the sandwiches:
French baguettes or hoagie rolls
Provolone cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Mix together garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt and pepper. Rub onto the beef round and set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients. (There may be some leftover rub.)
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add beef round and brown each side until well caramelized, about 2 - 3 minutes per side. Remove from the Dutch oven and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the celery, onion and bell pepper. (Don’t worry about the dark brown “fond” stuck to the bottom of the pot. This stuff will add great flavor to the final dish.) Sauté the vegetables until tender, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Stir in the flour and continue to cook until no white is visible, about 1 – 2 minutes. (This is important in order to cook the “raw” taste out of the flour.)
- Pour in the beef stock. Increase heat to medium-high and, stirring frequently, allow the sauce to thicken, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Nestle the beef round into the sauce.
- Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 4 - 4 ½ hours until meat can easily be shredded with a fork. Remove the beef round to a cutting board and shred into long strands. Chop these pieces, if desired. Add the chopped meat back to the gravy. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Reheat the meat on low heat, if necessary.
- Serve the beef and gravy on toasted or steamed baguettes with a generous dollop of mayonnaise, shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes. And while provolone cheese is not a traditional accompaniment, I think it’s a tasty one. Oh, and don’t forget your napkins!
More Southern Eats From Nealey
Nealey moved from Alabama to the West Coast to follow her dreams, only to realize once there how much she missed good ol’ country cooking. So she took to the kitchen and began re-creating the dishes of her past, but this time without any help from a can. What started out as a hobby turned into an obsession, so she quit her day job to pursue cooking – and eating – fulltime. Dixie Caviar is where you can follow her pursuits of all things Southern.