Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Orleans Roast Beef Po’Boy

I’ve been slowly trying to recreate recipes that I can only really get at home.. my Maw Maw’s spaghetti and king cake for example. Last week I decided to try a roast beef po’boy. This recipe is doubly difficult because you need perfect roast beef with debris and perfect bread. New Orleans style french bread is very specific - it’s not like a normal french baguette. It has a thin, crispy crust that is chewy, but not as chewy as a traditional baguette and a crumb that’s super soft and light and fluffy. THE icon of New Orleans french bread is Leidenheimer’s. Nothing beats their bread. I knew there was no way I was going to get something that epic, but I found a recipe on a bread forum that I thought would create at least something good.

I tested it 2 weekends ago and had 2 issues… 1) I felt 3 loaves were too many for the recipe - they were too small; 2) it’s SO delicate and airy, that you cannot touch it after the final rise - it needs to rise on the pan it will cook on. In my previous bread baking excursions, I heated the stone up with the oven, so I did that with my bread pan and that was no good. When I moved the loaf to the pan, it completely collapsed. However, the bread was still pretty tasty and we could tell that, with some adjustments, it just might work.

Then, for the roast beef - I had looked around a bit for recipes but wasn’t seeing anything that truly appealed to me. It needed to be buttery and shredded, with a good dark gravy with debris. So I checked in with a friend from high school who I know loves to cook to see if he had a recipe. He shared with me another friend’s recipe and it sounded pretty perfect.

So, last weekend I decided to put everything together. I cut the dough into only 2 loaves and allowed the final rise to be done in the pan. They came out pretty damn good. The crust is thin and flaky and the crumb is so soft and fluffy. And the flavor is just perfect! I would love to get a slightly crisper crust, but even the person who created the bread recipe had trouble with that. I used the lower, longer method of cooking. Maybe next time I’ll try the higher, shorter method and see what happens.

For the meat, I used the basic recipe I was given, but I added diced onions (because they make everything better), a bay leaf (because I love the flavor and we have 2 bay laurels in our back yard), and mixed beef and mushroom broth (because I like the flavors of those when mixed). I cooked it for about 3 ½ hours and it just disintegrated. It was awesome! :D  The flavor was amazing and the texture was melt in your mouth. Plus, when mixed with the gravy, it made the perfect roast beef with debris - where the gravy mixes with the mayo and soaks into the bread and you need about 1000 napkins.

Next time I need to season it more (I find that as much as I love salt, I never salt recipes enough). I also may add a few more flavors… garlic salt, maybe some beef bouillon, and possible paprika?? And although I skimmed the fat off a little bit this time, I think I need to take the time to separate the fat. A little fat is a must, but our cut of meat was pretty fatty and we found it just a teensy bit too oily.

Overall we were super happy with it and are very excited to be able to have po’boys whenever we want. Now I need to make a fried shrimp one!

New Orleans Roast Beef Po'Boy
Makes 4 po'boys (with maybe some roast beef left over)

340g unbleached bread flour
227g water (cool; 50-60°F)
8g sugar
5g instant yeast
5g unsalted butter (room temp)
10g canola oil
5g kosher salt

Roast Beef:
3lb boneless beef chuck roast
8 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup mushroom broth
1 bay leaf

Dressings: (below are all optional depending on your taste, but I highly recommend at least the lettuce and mayo)
Shredded iceberg lettuce

Special equipment:
Baguette pan
Spray bottle of water

Night before - Start the bread
Add all ingredients to stand mixer, stir briefly with spatula to combine and then mix with a kneading attachment for 15-20 minutes on 3
Form into ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight

In the morning, punch down and put in warm, dark place on counter and let rise until doubled in size again (I actually put mine in a slightly warm oven to speed this up)
Cut into 2 pieces, form into batards of about 8" long and let rest 20 minutes

Start the roast
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a dutch oven just large enough to hold the roast, heat the butter and oil over high heat. Sear the meat until very well browned on all sides, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. This is where a lot of the flavor comes from, so really get a good sear on there. When the roast is evenly browned on all sides, carefully add the onions, bay leaf, and both broths. Cover the pot, transfer the roast to the oven and cook, turning once or twice during the cooking time, until it is falling apart-tender, 3 to 3 ½ hours. Check occasionally to make sure that there is always at least 1-inch of liquid on the bottom of the pan. Add more broth (or water), as necessary, to keep this level during the entire cooking process.

By the time you get the meat in the oven, you can move on to the next bread step…
Roll out into baguettes, 16" long, about 2" wide and place in baguette pan, or whatever pan/stone they will be baked on.
Let rise until 2-3x larger, may take 1 to 3 hours

After about 3 ½ hours, when the roast is very tender, remove it from the oven and let rest briefly. After a brief rest, and before shredding, skim off any excess fat from the top of the gravy. Then, using 2 forks, pull the meat apart into thin shreds, mixing the meat with the accumulated drippings left in the bottom of the pan. Allow meat to cool slightly before making po’boy.

After taking out the meat, turn your oven up to 425 and lightly mist loaves with cold water before placing in oven
As soon as you put the loaves into the oven, spritz the inside of the oven with water from the water bottle. This creates steam so you don’t need to do a steam pan. Do this spritz every 2 mins for the first 6 mins of baking (a total of 3 times). After the last spritz, rotate the pan a bake for another 6 minutes until crust is very light golden brown.

Remove loaves and allow to cool completely.

Assemble po’boy
Cut loaves in half, then take one half and slice lengthwise. Spread with mayo and top with dressings - lettuce, tomato, pickle. Spread generous amount of roast beef on bread and top with gravy. Enjoy with lots and lots and lots of napkins handy!

- Obviously you can make either of these recipes separately and on different days. Although I do recommend making the bread fresh on the day you will be enjoying it.
- As I mentioned, next time I may try baking the bread at 500 for 8 minutes to see if I get a crispier crust.
- Also - have fun with seasonings! I’m going to try some different flavors next time I make this and I would love to know if you find anything that’s super delicious!

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