Friday, April 9, 2010

Step by Step Homemade Mississippi Roast Beef Po'Boy with Debris Gravy

How to make a Mississippi style, dressed and pressed, roast beef po'boy, using a freshly cooked roast and homemade gravy.
How to make a Mississippi style, dressed and pressed, roast beef po'boy, using a freshly cooked roast and homemade gravy.

Roast Beef Po'Boy with Debris Gravy

Po'boys are the mysterious sandwich of the South for sure. Over here in Mississippi we make ours just a tad bit different than our sister state, Louisiana. We have this whole "dressed and pressed" thing we like over this way. You can read more about what exactly a po'boy is, along with a mild southern style hissy fit about what a po'boy is not, right here. I won't rehash all that here.

I recently had a Twitter request for how to make a Mississippi roast beef po'boy start to finish. Besides the general post about what a po'boy is, I have posted how to construct an oyster po'boy, and also an old Mary Mahoney's favorite of mine, a Denver po'boy. I have a shrimp po'boy, built in the same manner as the oyster, except that the shrimp are cooked with this dredge when I make those.

Truth is though, roast beef is the original and still the King of Po'boys, and has been on my list of things to document, and I finally got around to it ... so Osmar from Brazil, this is for you! It may not be identical, but I hope that it at least reminds you of the ones you had at Pirate's Cove in Long Beach, Mississippi.

Two things, first thing. Be prepared for a lot of finger licking and a drippy mess, so keep lots of napkins handy. My Mama used to say "if it ain't messy, it ain't good," and a good roast beef po'boy with gravy is a lovely kind of messy. Second - do not skip a single step in this process or the end result will not be the same. No skipping steps or ingredients. No substituting.

To make 4 half po'boys, or 2 big ole po'boys for some hungry folk, you'll need two large loaves of French bread and a 2 to 3 pound eye of round roast. If you need more, just increase the amounts as needed, or make smaller po'boys if you're feeding kids, or, say... making them for a party!

I prefer the eye of round because rather than shredding, it slices well, and slices nice and thin also. You may have seen the cheater pulled pork that I boil - I know. Don't freak out! I do this roast for po'boys the same way, after seeing a segment on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives featuring Parasols, a New Orleans restaurant famous for it's roast beef po'boys.

I wouldn't have believed that Parasol's boiled their beef first, until I tried it for myself, but I like it much better this way now. It does actually go into the oven after the boil, in a nice, hot tub of yummy gravy where it gets more tender, and infused with wonderful flavor, so don't be scared by it's paleness when it comes out of the boiling water - just have faith and hang in there. If it's good enough for Parasols, it's good enough for us. You can also do this with deli roast beef, but make sure you get a good one, like Angus.

Put the roast in a large pot and cover it with water, plus about one inch over that. Then remove the roast and bring the pot of water to a full, rolling boil on its own. Once the water is boiling, carefully return the roast to the water. When the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and let it simmer for about 1-1/2 hours. Don't let it boil. You will note there is no seasoning in the water or on the roast. Yes, that is intentional! All of the seasoning comes later. Just keep on reading, you'll see!

Remove the roast from the water and set it aside to cool slightly, transfer it into a container to refrigerate and cool completely. Reserve all of the cooking water. Mix together the gravy seasoning - flour, Cajun seasoning, onion salt, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Looks a bit plain and dull doesn't it? Well, don't be deceived -but don't skip any steps either!

Add to that the canola oil and Kitchen Bouquet {affil link}, and mix until it forms a thick paste. Kitchen Bouquet is a browning and seasoning sauce used to add richness to meats, gravies, and stews. The ingredients include caramel coloring, and a mixed vegetable stock, including carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, turnips, salt, and parsley. Use of it enables you to skip the roux browning process because it adds the color and flavor. I've also used Gravy Master {affil link}, which was introduced to me by one of our readers here. I had to order it on Amazon, because I've never seen it around here, but it's somewhat similar to Kitchen Bouquet in what it does and is also very good.

If Kitchen Bouquet is not available where you live, you will need to make a browned roux with the flour instead. To make a roux, warm the oil over medium to medium high heat, then add the flour and cook and stir until mixture darkens. You can also make a roux using a microwave or in the oven. Stir in the seasonings, and proceed. For more about making a browned roux for gravy, click right here. You can use this method to make your gravy instead if you prefer.

Transfer 4 cups of the meat broth to a large saucepan and bring it to a full boil; reserve the remaining broth. Quickly whisk in the gravy base, until fully incorporated and mixture is bubbly and thickened.

Toss in a couple sprigs of thyme, reduce heat to a low simmer and let cook for 30 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Pull the roast out of the fridge and slice it very, very thin. Yes, yes... it looks pale and pitiful doesn't it? Just wait.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Set aside a cup of the gravy for later. Grab a 9 x 9 inch baking pan and add a layer of meat to the pan. Top the meat in the baking pan with a ladle or two full of the gravy.

Add another layer of meat and repeat with the gravy.

Continue layering until all of the meat and remaining gravy (except for what you set aside) has been put into the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place into the heated oven for about one hour, turning the meat occasionally.

There are several varieties of French bread available and any one of them is fine. Leidenheimer’s is more traditional, and while widely available here on the Gulf Coast, Rouse's Market also makes a mighty fine French bread that I really love. To be honest, we grab the French bread from WalMart's deli quite often too. You want French bread, a bread that has a nice crisp crust, but a fluffy, soft and tender (not dense) inside.

I like to toast the bread in a hot cast iron skillet {affil link} first, and then spread mayonnaise on both sides of the inside of the bread.

Pile some of the roast beef on the bottom half of the French bread. Top with sliced tomatoes and just a bit of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Top with pickles, if desired. I sometimes add pickles, sometimes I don't. Right now I am totally addicted to these Wickles pickles {affil link}. They are a little pricey but oh my gosh are they good on a roast beef po'boy! So add them if you like them, or not. Top that with shredded lettuce.

Close the top and put the entire po'boy back into the hot skillet and using a large spatula, gently push the po'boy into the skillet to press it. You can also top the po'boy with another skillet, or use a sandwich press, just take care that you are not squishing out all of the insides of your po'boy though. I don't press my roast beef po'boy as much as I would say a shrimp, ham and cheese, or crabmeat po'boy, due to the gravy. Turn the po'boy over and repeat. I forgot to get a pic of my "dressed and pressed" po'boy while I was pressing it in the skillet, so this is The Cajun's po'boy getting pressed in the skillet. He pretty much likes his po'boy with mayo and meat only {boring} but I made him eat a bit of lettuce too because it just looked too naked to me. Once pressed, you can open the sandwich up and add extra gravy to it if you like, and trust me, you will like.

Grab some Zapps chips and an ice cold Barq's root beer in a bottle if you can find one, though a good, ice cold beer is pretty darned good too. Roll up your sleeves, get the elbows out and up and get ready for some chin wiping and finger licking!

Here's how to make it.

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Recipe: Roast Beef Po'Boy with Debris Gravy

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive/Cook time: 3 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Note: Before you start. Do not skip a single step in this process or the end result will not be the same. No skipping steps, no leaving out ingredients. No substituting, period. If you want the same results you have to follow the directions.

The Bread:

Use two large French Bread loaves, either homemade, or locally purchased. Around here, we often use a New Orleans style po'boy bread, like Leidenheimer’s, though a good deli French bread from the grocery store or super center works just fine too. Substitute any long Italian or French bread loaf that is not too dense - you want it light and airy inside.


The Roast:
  • 1 (2-3 pound) beef eye of round roast
  • Water to cover, do not discard
For the Gravy:
  • 4 cups of the reserved broth from the roast, plus extra as needed
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Slap Ya Mama {affil link} or your favorite, Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet {affil link}
  • Couple sprigs of fresh thyme
Building the Po'Boy:
  • French Bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sliced Tomato
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sliced dill pickles, optional
  • Shredded Iceberg lettuce

For the roast, place meat in a pot or dutch oven and cover it with water, plus about an inch. Remove the roast and set aside. Bring the water up to a full rolling boil on it's own, and then, carefully slide the roast into it. When the water returns to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer and let cook for about 1-1/2 hours. Remove the roast, reserving all of the water from the broth; set aside. Place roast into the refrigerator to chill for easier slicing.

For the gravy, transfer 4 cups of the stock from the roast into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile stir together the flour, Cajun seasoning, onion salt, garlic powder, salt and pepper until well blended. Stir in the oil and Kitchen Bouquet to form a thick paste.

Once the water is at a full rolling boil, quickly whisk in the paste and continue whisking until well incorporated. Reduce heat, add thyme, and low simmer the gravy uncovered, for 30 minutes, adding more of the broth water to reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. While the gravy is simmering, remove the roast from the refrigerator and slice it into very thin slices. Set aside approximately 1 cup of the gravy. Place one layer of roast beef into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish and top with a scoop of the gravy. Add another layer of roast beef, another scoop of the gravy, and continue layering until all has been put into the pan. Be sure to pan all of the bits and imperfect pieces from cutting (the debris). Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees F for about 1 hour, turning occasionally, or until meat is tender.

To build the po'boy, divide the French bread into halves or the size needed, and slice each piece lengthwise. Try to leave a flat edge "hinge" intact if possible. It sort of helps to hold everything in. If you cut through or it opens up anyway, no big deal! Heat a large cast iron or skillet, open the bread up and toast each serving on the inside.

Add mayonnaise to both sides of the inside of the French bread for each serving. Add roast beef to the bottom half of the bread. Top with sliced tomatoes; add salt and pepper. Add pickles, if desired. Top with shredded lettuce, and place other half of the French bread on top. Place back into the skillet, and using a wide spatula, press down while heating. You can also use a press, if you can control the pressure, or you can put a heavy skillet on top. I prefer to just press with a wide spatula so not to squeeze out too much of the gravy! Carefully turn the po'boy over and repeat on the other side, toasting while pressing.

Transfer the po'boy to a cutting board and slice in half. Open and add some of the reserved gravy if desired. Wrap tightly in several sheets of white butcher paper, and serve with a side of Zapp's potato chips, an ice cold, bottled Barq's root beer and a lot of napkins! Now that's genuine! Course if you don't have access to those two amazing sides, we won't mind at all if you substitute. Barq's in a bottle have gotten kinda hard to come by even here sometimes and we didn't have any Zapp's in the house for this po'boy round.

Cook's Notes: Shortcut the process by using deli sliced roast beef. Use 4 cups of beef broth to prepare gravy and proceed with the recipe.

Make it a Party: Use pistolettes to make mini party sized po'boys or packages of small dinner rolls or party rolls to make mini roast beef sandwiches - something like King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls would be a good choice.


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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

What Exactly Is a Po'Boy?
How to Construct an Oyster Po'Boy
Denver Po'Boy
Italian Beef for Sandwiches
Mississippi'd New Orleans Muffuletta

Posted by on April 9, 2010
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