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Cookin' ATVS Style: Roast Beef Debris

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Another New Orleans classic.

Just like Mother's makes.
Just like Mother's makes.
Billy Gomila

Depending on whom you ask, the roast beef po-boy just might be the signature sandwich of New Orleans. And some might also say the logical conclusion of roast beef is when it becomes debris. Basically, when the meat has cooked down so much that all of the connective tissue is gone and it crumbles apart, which the rendered fat helping make a real nice gravy or au jus.

In Cajun Country, debris usually means, literally, the leftovers of a butchered hog. Organs, entrails, trash meats, etc...but in New Orleans, it's come to be a fantastic way to deal with old roast beef. Cook it down to nothing until it's almost like pulled pork. Great on a sloppy po-boy or even just poured over some rice. Mother's Restaurant on Poydras in downtown NOLA has perfected debris' use as a breakfast item, on a big fluffy biscuit with some scrambled eggs, or over grits.

The best part of this dish, though, is that it's remarkably easy to make.

Ingredients

1 beef chuck roast, at least 3 lbs (mine was closer to 4)
5-10 cloves of garlic
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper corns to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup beef broth/beef consommé
1 tbsp Worcestshire sauce
1-2 tsp onion powder

Using a chuck roast is important for the marble content in the meat, which will render down.

Instructions

1. Using a sharp paring knife, cut several small slits in your roast. Stuff a couple of cracked pepper corns (if you have a grinder, just set it to the coarsest grind and use the chunks it'll produce) and then a peeled clove of garlic into each hole. Overkill is underrated when it comes to this step. I usually wind up with 7-8 pockets, but just go with however many holes you're comfortable putting into the roast. It's all basically going to disintegrate into the meat when the roast falls apart anyway.

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2. Sprinkle some salt along the outside of the roast and rub it in well.

3. In a medium-to-large Dutch oven (whatever your roast will fit in), heat the tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat, and brown your roast on both the top and bottom well. This part is a big key to getting the right flavor, so it's important to get a good brown sear on each side. Short of burning the roast, you can't go too brown here.

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4. Remove the pan from the heat, drain off as much of the oil as you can, then pour over the beef broth or consommé. Add the worcestshire and onion powder and mix in well.

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5. Cover and roast in a 300-degree oven for 3-4 hours, or until the meat falls apart when you scrape it with a fork. You may want to add some more water or broth if you feel like the level is getting too low. A crock pot will also do the job in about 12 hours on the low setting -- and is a great serving dish for the roast once you're ready to serve. Serve as you want, either on a sandwich or over your starch of choice. This should serve 6-8 people.

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