New Orleans Roast Beef Debris Po' Boy | La  Bella Vita Cucina

“Debris” is the New Orleans description for this messy, 10-napkins-required famous NOLA sandwich. The “debris” is the ultra-tender little bits and pieces of beef that fall off a beef roast while it slowly braises in a thick and savory gravy. And these little brown gems are just too delicious to put into words.

The New Orleans Roast Beef Debris Po Boy is one of the Big Easy’s favorite local foods.

The “Crescent City” is famous for Mardis Gras celebrations, soirees, elaborate architecture, strong cocktails, seafood, Bananas Foster, bread pudding, and Mufulettas. But it’s NOLA’s “Po’ Boy” that’s favored by both locals and visitors to the city. There is even an annual Po’ Boy Festival!

A Po’ Boy is a traditional Louisiana sandwich that’s over-stuffed with your choice of roast beef, hot sausage, shrimp, oysters, crab, fried chicken, or catfish that’s traditionally packed between 2 long slices of locally baked, flaky, and crunchy French bread. New Orleans French bread is made with less flour and more water. This creates a bread that’s more fluffy and light, less chewy, and softer on the inside with a crispier crust.

The Roast Beef Debris Po’ Boy is packed with fork-tender, fall-apart, tender beef in a rich ‘debris’ brown gravy. The ‘New Orleans specialty French bread’ is toasted and spread with mayonnaise. From there, heaping mounds of shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and dill pickles make up a ‘fully-dressed’ Po’ Boy. Bold flavors of creamy horseradish, remoulade, pickle relish, Creole mustard, hot sauce, and Provolone cheese are additional options.

Of course, every cook has their own version of a Roast Beef Debris Po’ Boy since this sandwich is so versatile. Using a lot of garlic is hands-down universal among all recipes! Don’t let that scare you because garlic adds so much to this dish, otherwise, it would just be like any old plain pot roast meat sandwich.

Roast Beef Debris Po’ Boy sandwiches are perfect for any busy cook too! Not only can the beef and gravy be prepared ahead of time, but it tastes even BETTER after just one day of resting in the fridge while the ingredients marry. When tightly covered and stored in the fridge, it keeps for one full week and stays moist when the beef is kept in the debris gravy!

(See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the exact measurements)

  • Season your roast
  • Cut deep slits all over and stuff with ½ garlic clove
  • Melt butter and/or extra virgin olive oil in a deep, heavy pot
  • Sear the roast on all sides for 4-5 minutes on each side until brown
  • Chop up an onion
New Orleans Roast Beef Debris Po' Boy
  • Saute’ onion in hot butter/olive oil
  • Scrape up the brown bits
  • Mix flour and water to make the roux
  • Add roux to the sautee’d onions
  • Mix roux and onion to form a thick base
  • Add beef broth
New Orleans Roast Beef Debris Po' Boy
  • Stir to incorporate everything thus far
  • ONLY if desired, add a 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce (not in the photos)
  • ONLY if desired, add one splash of A1 sauce (and no more than that)
  • ONLY if desired, add a ½ teaspoon of Kitchen Bouquet seasoning (and no more than that)
  • Add bay leaves and thyme
  • Add ½ packet of dried onion soup, Italian dressing mix, or Ranch Buttermilk dressing mix
  • Add roast back into the sauce
New Orleans Roast Beef Debris Po' Boy
  • Cook in 325 F degree oven for a minimum of 3 hours until fork tender
  • Remove meat from the pot and set aside in another skillet or plate
  • Using 2 forks, shred the beef
  • Return the shredded beef back into the pot of gravy/sauce
  • Toast bread and spread both sides with garlic butter
  • Place a huge mound of cooked beef on one side of the bread
  • Spread mayonnaise on the other side of the bread
  • Add a large layer of shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, dill pickle slices
  • OR
  • Any other ingredient you prefer (see some common options above)
  • A chuck roast is the best cut to use for Po’ Boys because it has so much fat (that screams great flavor). Plus it gets so tender that you can shred it easily.
  • Select a roast that has one side with LOTS of fat. Otherwise, just make sure there is a lot of fat streaks all over the beef.
  • Cut LOTS of slits in your roast (and on both sides). Insert 15-20 half cloves of garlic in each slit.
  • Season with your favorite beef spices: Recommended “Tony Satcher’s Creole Seasoning”. But use it very lightly!
  • Always sear your roast until browned for 4 minutes on all sides. This seals in the meat’s natural juices. The pot will have the most amazing ‘brown bits’ of deliciousness that you scrape up and incorporate into the base of the ‘debris’ gravy (or au jus depending on how thick you want the sauce to be).
  • Low and slow cooking in a low-temperature oven. This is to get that incredible fork-tender texture that causes the beef to just melt in your mouth! Yes, you can also prep these in an Instant Pot or crock pot/slow cooker and it will tenderize well.
  • When finished cooking, let your roast rest in the pot for 15 minutes.
  • If you live in Louisiana, which most of us don’t, you’ll want to get your hands on the state’s famous, authentic New Orleans-style French bread (from Leidenheimer). Otherwise, like I have to do, use any soft French bread. As long as the bread is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, you’re good to go!
  • Toast your bread and spread it with garlic butter for an even better-tasting sandwich. This was my parents’ secret to their French Dips that almost flew out the window of their restaurant (I’ll share that recipe with you at another time).
  • If you add a layer of Provolone, Havarti, Mozzarella, or Pepper Jack cheese on top of the meat, pop it in the oven to melt

So what would you like to nibble on with your Po’ Boy? That is if you have any room left in your tummy (I can only eat about ⅓ of this sammie in one meal, it is so totally filling). Here are some ideas to try:

Mardis Gras Bananas Foster Muffins

Cinnamon and Apple Cream Cheese King Cake

New Orleans Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Kettle Potato Chips

Old-Fashioned Southern Potato Salad

New Orleans Scalloped Corn

New Orleans Brabant Crispy Fried Potatoes

Muffuletta Pasta Salad

Do take a minute and enjoy watching this video about the New Orleans Po’ Boy!
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New Orleans Roast Beef Debris Po Boy |

New Orleans Roast Beef Debris Po Boy

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  • Author: Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina



For the Roast Beef

  • 34 lb. chuck roast with lots of fat
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled, cut in half
  • Sprinkling of Creole seasoning
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 stick of butter (or use 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon “Better Than Bouillion”(beef flavor) or canned beef broth
  • 3 cups water
  • (4″ long) fresh thyme sprigs, stem removed (or used dried thyme, preferably French Thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp. A-1 Sauce, and/or 1/2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet)

For the Po’ Boy Add-Ons (to be “Fully Dressed”):

  • Either New Orleans French bread or high-quality French bread
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce (1 – 2 heads of lettuce)
  • 6 ripe large tomatoes, sliced
  • Sliced dill pickles

OPTIONAL, and good:

  • Sliced Fontina, Provolone, Havarti, Mozzarella, or Pepper Jack cheese
  • Roumalade sauce
  • Creamy horseradish Sauce
  • Pepperoncini peppers / Banana peppers
  • Louisiana hot sauce


For the Roast Beef and Debris Gravy

  1. Melt butter in heavy pot
  2. Season chuck roast all over however, you like it.  Some recommended spices are listed in ‘ingredients’.
  3. Cut about 20 slits into roast, about ¾” deep, insert garlic clove halves.
  4. Place the season roast with garlic cloves into the pot and sear chuck roast in the hot butter all over until a nice dark brown appears., approximately 4 – 5 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove and set aside, but do not throw away any of the brown bits left at the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add chopped onions to the bacon bits in the pot; saute’ until golden brown.
  7. While the onions brown, make the ‘roux’ by adding the flour to the warm water.
  8. Pour the ‘roux’ all around the golden brown onions and brown bits.
  9. With a fork, stir the roux into the onion/brown bits mixture.  It will be like a very thick paste.
  10. Mix 1 teaspoon of bouillion to 3 cups of water.
  11. Pour into the pot of onions/roux mixture; stir to incorporate.
  12. Add Worcesteshire Sauce, Bay leaves, and thyme.  Optional boost of flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of A-1 sauce and Kitchen Bouquet.
  13. Add ½ packet of Lipton dry onion soup mix; stir.
  14. Place the seared chuck roast with garlic back into the pot.
  15. Cover the pot and bake in a 325 F degree oven for a minimum of 3 hours.  Remove from the oven when it has the fork-tender level of tenderness that you desire.
  16. Remove from the pot, leaving the debris gravy in the pot.
  17. With 2 forks, shred the chuck roast meat.
  18. Return the shredded beef to the pot of debris gravy.
  19. Toast the bread, remove and spread with garlic butter (1 Tbsp. garlic powder to ½ stick of butter) for 2 sandwiches, buttered on both sides).
  20. Place a heaping mound of beef and debris sauce onto ½ of the bread.
  21. On the other half of the bread, spread mayonnaise.
  22. Over the mayonnaise, place a heaping mound of shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, slices of pickles (and any other toppings that you prefer  — see ingredients list).
  23. Place the two halves of the sandwich together and lightly press down.
  24. Grab tons of napkins and ENJOY!
  25. Buon Appetito!