Comfort food. It’s something we’re craving now more than ever. But what is it really?
The truth is, it just depends. Each person’s definition of comfort food is a bit different. Often it’s food related to a specific memory. Maybe it was your favorite meal that your mom made when you were a kid. Maybe it’s warm chocolate chip cookies. Maybe it’s a gooey, cheesy casserole. For some folks it’s pizza. For others it’s pasta.
In all honesty, I have quite a few comfort foods. You can look at me and tell that. But one of them, is beef and gravy. But not just any beef and gravy… it’s a roast beef debris po’ boy.
Now you’re probably asking… “What’s this whole po’ boy thing?” Right?
So the story goes like this…
As I’ve been told, Benny and Clovis Martin owned a coffee and sandwich shop in New Orleans near the French Market in the 1920s. When a streetcar conductor strike happened, many workers went without work and of course went hungry. Being former streetcar workers themselves, the Martin brothers took pity on the folks on strike and worked to feed them with leftover meats and breads they had each day. They would build the scraps into sandwiches and hand them out to the “poorboys” who were out of work. The name became synonymous with the sandwich. It then was typically shortened to po’ boy.
Today po’ boy sandwiches are filled with just about anything you can imagine – though fried seafood, ham and cheese, and roast beef are traditional.
And this roast beef po’ boy is why we’re here today. But it’s not just any ol’ roast beef po’ boy, it’s a debris po’ boy.
The folks down at Mother’s Restaurant in New Orleans lay claim to the specific debris po’ boy and say that debris (pronounced day-bree) is all the stuff that falls off the roast beef while its cooking, mixed up in the rendered beef fat and juice.
It’s evolved a little bit over time and is now more of a sandwich made up of super tender, fall-apart, shredded roast beef, gravy, and fixings. At Mother’s those fixings are mayo, creole, and yellow mustard, shredded cabbage, and pickles and my affinity for their sandwich is exactly why I’ve made this one the same way.
But again, this isn’t a regular old roast beef sandwich. What makes it different is how super tender the meat is and all that delicious gravy. This is a gravy-running-down-your-arms kinda sandwich. You’re seriously gonna need some napkins here.
Oh and then there’s the bread.
For me, making a true po’ boy calls for only one kind of bread. Leidenheimer bread. It’s got a super light, almost cotton candy-esque, interior and amazingly crisp exterior. It’s perfect for sopping up all the juicy gravy from the meat. And while I’m fortunate enough to have a local restaurant that uses the New Orleans classic bread that will sell me some, I know not everyone has a source for the stuff. So opt for a light, tender French bread style sub roll and toast it in the oven for a few minutes to try and recreate that crispy exterior. It ain’t perfect, but it works.
Here’s the thing… regardless of the exact ingredients, meat, bread, and gravy can’t be a bad thing. So if you’re needing a little comforting, you need to try this out!
Slow Cooker Roast Beef Debris Po' Boys
- 1 (2.5 to 3-pound) beef chuck roast
- 1 (1-ounce) packet au jus mix
- 1 (.87-ounce) packet brown gravy mix
- 1 cup water
- 4 to 6 French bread sub rolls - about 6 inches each (or 2 large French bread loaves cut into 2 to 3 pieces each)
- finely shredded cabbage
- dill pickle chips
- yellow mustard
- creole mustard
- Spray the crock of a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add the chuck roast. In a small bowl, whisk together the au jus mix, gravy mix, and 1 cup of water. Pour it over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
- Once the beef is super tender, carefully remove the roast from the slow cooker and shred the meat when cool enough to handle. Discard the fat and return the shredded meat to the gravy in the slow cooker. Mix to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Warm the bread in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to crisp up the exterior.
- Dress the bread with mayo and Creole and/or yellow mustard. Add generous amounts of the shredded beef and gravy to the sandwich. Top with the shredded cabbage and pickles.
Although I love Roast Beef Po Boys, I mainly use this recipe for a main course formal dinner. I serve it with buttery parslied potatoes, green beans and carrots. I serve this at the retreat center I run in the mountains for large groups. EVERYBODY RAVES ABOUT THE AMAZING FLAVOR! Thank you for sharing!!!
So glad to hear you’ve gotten some great use out of the recipe!
My sister-in-law fed us this and I fell in love! I was surprised when she sent me the recipe because it only called for the au jus and brown gravy packet. I assumed it contained so much more but she insisted it didn’t. I’m cooking this for New Year’s Eve.
Awesome! So glad to hear y’all enjoyed it!
Sue Turnage Hilbert
I made this several times. This is my very favorite! These are the closest beef po-boys to the New Orleans po-boys that I have found. Making them today for my birthday!
I couldn’t get a higher compliment! So glad to hear you’ve enjoyed this recipe and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
Do you have a favorite au jus or gravy mix?
I much prefer the McCormick brand.
Coat the outside of the bread with a little olive olive oil, or if you really want some comfort a thin layer of melted butter.
Plus if you know the people making your bread ask them to only cook it 3/4 of the way through, so you can finish it in the oven.
Please remember if the gravy doesn’t slide down your arms there’s not enough.
Thanks for those great tips and I couldn’t agree more about the gravy!!!
IN Nola, we also put the debris over fries, just add some shredded mozarella to top..YUMMMMMMMM.
Also if you want a bit more bite to beef, add a shot of worcheshire sauce while cooking…
Those fries are so good! We make them, too!
I will definitely be making this!
I sure hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!
Omygosh. I am stuck at home, trying to stay well, plenty of food here, but nothing looks good to me. Opened my email and THIS RECIPE! It looks so good I can almost taste it, but have none of the ingredients. And can’t go to the store. Shame on you, teasing an almost 88 year old woman. I am in central Georgia. I think you need to make me one, or two of these, and hand deliver to me. Ok, you know I am just having fun with you, will save and make this soon.
Ha! Hopefully the conditions will improve soon and you’ll be able to get a taste of these po’ boys!
N’vr mind I just found a good answer you’ve proved on another recipe. thank you
Just asking … some recipes call for searing the meat before hand? (I’m scared … lol) but is it okay to precede on as the recipe calls for? Thank you 🙂
No worries, Chandra! I’m glad you found the answer. I’ll answer anyway, just in case anyone else has the question… It is certainly an option, but it is not a requirement. It will add some flavor, but won’t really do much else.