Technically, you aren’t roasting this roast beef, although you’re using a cut of meat referred to as a “roast”; what you’re doing is braising in the classic manner, with a little bit more liquid than is traditional, and then using that liquid to make the killer, killer gravy.
By the way, you can braise the beef in plain water, but if you use a homemade brown beef stock like the recipe calls for, the gravy will be 600,000 times better.
If you have any leftover gravy, you can use it to make the original poor boy sandwich — fried potatoes and gravy on French, with mayonnaise. Use either good thick French fries or make brabant potatoes, slather them with rich roast beef gravy and dig in. It’s unbelievably good, cheap and a carbohydrate rush so big it ought to be illegal.
YIELD: enough roast beef debris for about 10-12 good-sized poor boys (sandwiches)
- 1 beef shoulder roast, about 5 pounds
- 1/4 pound piece of salt pork, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups minced onion
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning blend
- 1/4 cup lard, bacon drippings or solid shortening (e.g., Crisco)
- 6 carrots, diced
- 6 ribs celery, sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup good red wine
- 6 to 7 cups boiling water
- 2 beef marrow bones
- 2 to 3 quarts beef stock
- fresh, crisp crusted New Orleans-style French bread for the final delivery – make sure the bread (a good baguette will do) is not chewy. The bread must be crispy on the outside and light on the inside.
- Cut a pattern of incisions across the top of the roast every couple of inches, each long and deep enough to hold a slice of salt pork.
- Combine half the garlic, 1 cup of the onion (mince this finely), 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, and push this mixture into the slits you’ve made for the salt pork.
- Press salt pork into the beef and tie it securely, trying to make the shape of the roast as even as possible for even cooking.
- In a pot broad and deep enough to hold the roast with room to spare, melt the lard over medium heat.
- Brown the roast well all around, keeping the salt pork inside.
- Add all remaining seasonings, carrots, celery, parsley and thyme to the pot, cooking until the onions are limp.
- Add wine and enough boiling beef stock or water to nearly cover beef.
- Add bones.
- Cover pot and simmer 4 hours, until beef is very tender.
- Remove beef from pot to another dish that will hold dripping juices.
- Raise heat under liquid and boil hard, uncovered, 45 minutes.
- While boiling down the gravy, baste the roast so it doesn’t dry out.
- Remove salt pork strips from beef and slice it as best you can (it will fall into chunks and shreds; the smaller you shred it, the more it’ll be like the legendary “debris” from Mother’s), putting the pieces into a separate serving or storage dish.
- Strain the gravy, season it to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and optionally a small pinch or two of cayenne and pour it over the beef. There should be about a quart of gravy. The resulting mixture should be sloppy, luscious and profoundly beefy.
Serve on fresh, crisp crusted New Orleans-style French bread — average po-boy size is at least nine inches. Serve your roast beef po-boys dressed (with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, etc.) or just with mayonnaise. You may try mixing plenty of horseradish into mayonnaise. Optionally, you could serve this as a plate lunch or dinner with vegetables and potatoes as well. .