Make the best-ever hot roast beef sandwich made Po’ boy style for dinner tonight! Featuring perfectly tender, slow cooker roast beef, served over crusty white bread with sandwich toppings piled high!
NOLA AND HER PO’ BOYS
If you have yet to visit the Cajun comfort food capital of the South, it might be high-time you took a treck on over to New Orleans. My husband and I are no stranger to the city, and with it being just one state away, it’s one of our favorite foodie stomping grounds. From gumbo to etouffee, chargrilled oysters, and fresh Gulf shrimp, NOLA is by far one of the greatest cities a Southerner could ever eat their way through. And, it just so happens to be the inspiration behind this hot roast beef sandwich, otherwise known in New Orleans as the remarkable roast beef po’ boy.
Po’ boys are staples in New Orleans. It’s hot crusty French bread, piled high with your choice of fried oysters, fried fish, fried alligator, boudin, sausage, and by far the most popular choice, fried shrimp. This was my go-to choice at the famous Parkway Bakery, a famous Louisianna po’boy spot well-worth waiting in line for.
Little did I know, once we finally made it out of that line, I would soon to be met with a serious case of order envy.
A SERIOUS CASE OF ORDER ENVY
We travel to NOLA fairly often with a couple friend of ours, and when I heard my girlfriend order a roast beef po’ boy, I must admit, I really thought I had indeed made the better selection. Cause, I mean, c’mon — what could be better than fried shrimp? But as soon as I saw her glorious sandwich plopped down beside me, I knew I was sorely mistaken. My shrimp po’ boy wasn’t even holding a candle to the hot roast beef sandwich sitting there next to me.
Oh, yes. I would leave New Orleans that year dreaming of hot, crusty French bread slathered with mayonnaise, and loaded with a hefty helping of steamy, succulent roast beef, drenched in its own gravy and accompanied by an onslaught of pickles, fresh, sliced tomatoes, along with the crisp, cool bite of shredded lettuce. Without a doubt, this was kind of sandwich foodie dreams were made of.
THE GREATEST HOT ROAST BEEF SANDWICH. EVER.
Being the wonderful friend she was, she did lend me a tasting of her roast beef po’ boy, and it would remain on my mind’s palette until I was able to recreate the magic at home.
HOW TO MAKE ROAST BEEF FOR A PO’ BOY
A hot roast beef sandwich begins with the obvious: Roast beef. For this po’ boy, I wanted roast beef that was simple to make, full of flavor, and accompanied by a sauce that would perfectly coat the beef once transported into sandwich form.
START WITH CHUCK SHOULDER ROAST
Chuck shoulder roast is the cut of beef most commonly used for roast beef. It’s a tough cut by nature, but when cooked for a long period of time on a low heat setting, it breaks down and becomes fall-apart tender. Because I was opting for the simplest way to cook the roast beef down to perfection, the slow cooker was the obvious choice.
SEAR THE BEEF + THROW IN SOME ONIONS
However, in order to get as much flavor into the po’ boy sandwich as possible, certain measures needed be taken prior to the beef going in the slow cooker. The chuck shoulder would need to undergo a quick sear on the stovetop before getting transported to the slow cooker. This, in addition to the quick sauté of yellow onions, would help to impart major flavor into the roast beef.
IT’S ALL GRAVY, BABY.
Another goal for this hot roast beef sandwich recipe, was for the roast beef to not only braise in a flavorful liquid, but for it to (essentially) create its own gravy. On the stovetop was the perfect way to kick this off. Once the onions softened, in went the flour, followed by half of the beef broth. The beef broth gets slowly incorporated, making for a smooth and easy roast beef sauce that would soon be used to smother our po’ boy sandwiches.
SLOW COOK AND REDUCE
All that’s left for the beef is to transfer it, along with the gravy mixture, to the slow cooker, cover it and let braise until you could cut it with a fork. Toward the end of the cook time, the lid comes off, allowing the sauce to reduce and the beef to tenderize even further, making for a hot roast beef sandwich filling that could hold its own alongside the best-of-the-best in New Orleans.
THE BREAD MATTERS, GUYS.
If we were talking about just any ol’ hot roast beef sandwich here, you could use almost any bread you had lying around. But, we’re not. We talking a NOLA style roast beef po’ boy, and for this sandwich, you’re going to need white bread that’s crusty on the outside, and perfectly soft on the inside.
For this, you’ll need to take on a “fresh is best” mentality, and hit up the bakery section of your grocery store. A French loaf, the skinny French loaves (that comes in pairs) or hoagie rolls are absolutely perfect for this sandwich. If you want a less “bread-y” sandwich, feel free to gently tear away at some of the bread’s interior.
GIMME ALL THE TOPPINGS (AND DON’T FORGET THE PICKLES)
Part of the beauty of a roast beef po’ boy is the contrast between the toppings and the roast beef. The acidity of the tomatoes and the crisp bite of cool, shredded lettuce add contrast in both flavor and texture to an otherwise soft and savory sandwich. And, the pickles. Oh, do not skimp out on the pickles. The crunchy bite of the pickles with their sharp, vinegary flavor against that hot roast beef is magical, folks. Pure. Magic.
This baby is a perfect replica of New Orleans roast beef po’ boy, and I can’t imagine a better way to serve up a hot roast beef sandwich. It was the cure for my order envy, and the cure for all your Southern comfort food cravings. It’ll transport you straight from your kitchen to a little wooden table at Parkway Bakery, only this time, we get to jump straight to the front of the line. Please, enjoy.
Perfectly tender, slow cooker roast beef, served over crusty white bread with sandwich toppings piled high!
- 2 1/2 - 3 pound beef chuck shoulder roast
- 1 tablespoon TAK House Seasoning or your favorite beef seasoning
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour separated
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 cups unsalted or low sodium beef broth
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Fresh white bakery bread for sandwiches (French loaf, French sticks, or hoagie rolls will do fine)
- Tomatoes seeded and sliced 1/4" thick
- Sliced dill pickles
- Finely shredded Iceberg lettuce
Pat the roast dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with seasoning and 2 tablespoons of flour. Rub all over to evenly adhere.
Add the oil to a very large, rimmed sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and allow to come to temperature. Add the roast to the pan and sear for about 4 minutes on both sides, or until it develops a nice crust. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the diced onion to the pan and sauté, stirring often. Cook the onion for 3-4 minutes, or until just softened. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour over the onions and stir to coat.
Add about half of the beef broth one big splash at a time, stirring until completely incorporated after each addition. Once half of the broth has been incorporated, add the salt and pepper and allow to come to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes, or until thickened slightly.
Add the beef, along with all of its juices, to your slow cooker. Pour over the sauce, along with the remaining broth. Set your slow cooker on the high heat setting and cover. Cook for 4 hours, then remove the beef and shred it. Add the shredded beef back to the slow cooker, and continue to cook (uncovered) for 1 1/2 hours more, stirring occasionally.
Cut your bread for sandwiches (if necessary). If you'd like to toast your bread, preheat the oven to 400°. Once the oven comes to temperature, place the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Remove bread from the oven, slather with mayonnaise (if using), add a generous serving of shredded roast beef and desired toppings. Serve and enjoy!