This recipe like many others on Nola Cuisine is written for folks like myself who love the food of New Orleans, but are too far away to walk out their door and have someone else do the cookin’. I’ve had a hunger for a Roast Beef from Parasol’s ever since my trip last March, but since I live in Michigan, this is a major problem, so I decided to put together a recipe to make my own, based on the video below of Parasol’s owner Jeff Carreras making the Po Boy at the restaurant.
I made a recipe based on what I saw, although pared down so that it will work for the home cook. This isn’t a fancy recipe, but I would say most authentic in it’s preparation to what you will find in a lot of neighborhood restaurants in New Orleans, the first bite took me right to Parasol’s in the Irish Channel.
I am totally aware that the host in this clip from the food network is a total Stooge, but this little video is a god send. The owner of Parasol’s graciously shows us how to make their Roast Beef Po Boy, granted we have to listen to that bleach blonde goon yammer through the whole video, but it is almost worth it. This is an unpretentious, neighborhood recipe. Some may lift their nose to the Kitchen Bouquet and some of the preparation, I swayed a little myself, but the end result is totally authentic. Try it for yourself, you’ll be moanin’ in your seat with a land fills worth of gravy stained napkins around you. I promise.
A note on New Orleans French Bread, or Po Boy Bread. I was fortunate enough recently to locate an acceptable substitute for New Orleans Po Boy or French Bread at a local market. Not exact mind you, but it has a lot of the same characteristics, Crisp, yet chewy Crust, soft center, cotton candy-like as it is often called, and just the right size. I’ve tried and tried over the years to create a recipe that is close, but I’m on hiatus from that mission for the time being. You wouldn’t believe the amount of emails I receive asking if I have the magic recipe. Not yet, sorry.
The object of the Po Boy Bread in this recipe is to make the eating experience as messy as possible. During your first bite the sandwich should flatten somewhat and your hands (as well as chin and possibly clothing) should be awash with gravy, beef debris, mayonnaise and possibly a few shreds of lettuce as the contents spray from the sides as if the sandwich was stepped on. Relax and enjoy, resist the urge to reach for that over sized stack of napkins until the last morsel is gone. In my humble opinion, the best Roast Beef Po Boys in New Orleans are judged by the amount of napkins used to clean up the aftermath.
This post is for my good friend Bill Moran, who unfortunately is laid up in the hospital in Corpus Christi. I wish I was close enough to bring you one of these my friend, I hope you get home soon.
Parasol’s Style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe
For the Beef:
2 lbs Beef Round, I used a bottom round Roast
Water, enough to cover by one inch in a dutch oven
For the Gravy:
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder (must be powder, not granulated)
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Oil
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
3 Cups Broth, reserved from the boiled beef (maybe more if your gravy gets too thick)
Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the beef roast, when the pot comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium to medium high, you should have a heavy simmer. Cook for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the liquid and refrigerate until cold. Reserve about five cups of the broth, you won’t need all of it, but keep some to thin the gravy out if necessary.
While the beef is cooling make the gravy.
Bring 3 cups of the reserved cooking liquid to a boil in a small saucepan.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, then the oil and kitchen bouquet, when thoroughly blended, whisk the mixture into the boiling broth, whisk together well, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. If necessary add a little of the reserved broth if the gravy is too thick. It should be. not too thick, not too thin. Let the gravy simmer for 20-30 minutes adjust for seasonings, it should have a good amount of salt as the beef has none.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
When the beef is cold, slice it as thin as possible and lay the slices in a 9X9 baking pan. The thicker your slices are, the longer it will take in the oven, so slice thin. or your hungry ass will be waiting. 🙂
Cover the beef with 2-3 cups of the gravy. Place into the oven 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beef is fall apart tender.
For the Po Boy:
2 ten inch French Loaves, see article above
2 Tomatoes, sliced
2 Cups shredded Iceburg Lettuce
1 Dill Pickle, sliced
The Roast Beef from the above recipe
Slice the bread in half lengthwise and lay both halves side by side. Slather a bunch of mayonnaise on both sides (I’ll be the cholesterol devil on your shoulder: Come on, your doctor’s not lookin’, don’t be stingy!).
On the top half, add pickle slices, tomato slices, and 1 Cup of the lettuce. On the bottom half, add 1/2 of the beef and gravy mixture (please note, I super-sized the amount of beef in this recipe). Fold the top over the side with the beef and put on a sheet pan. Repeat with the second sandwich. Place the sheet pan in the oven for 2-3 minutes to crisp and warm the bread.
Cut each sandwich in half and serve on paper plates for authenticity. Serve with your favorite cold beer, Barq’s in a bottle, Zapp’s chips, and a big ole’ pile of napkins. Enjoy!
Serves 2 hungry eating machines, or 4 light weights.
Upon entering Cochon Butcher, which is right around the corner from Cochon Restaurant and in the same building on Tchoupitoulis and Andrew Higgins, the first thing that I laid eyes on was their Andouille. Nicely laid out in the deli case, deep brown from hours of smoking, and as a true Andouille should be, huge as it’s stuffed into a beef middle casing.
The first thing that I thought of is that New Orleans locals, thanks to Chefs Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski, and Warren Stephens, will no longer have to make the commute out to Laplace, Louisiana (read my Jacob’s Andouille post) to get Andouille if they don’t want to, the real article is right in the city now, along with scores of other wonderful products. All of the sausages, salamis, Mortadella, confits, terrines, rillettes, pickles, Creole Mustard, EVERYTHING is made in house! This place is a Mecca for all things swine, even more so than Cochon Restaurant. Feel like making a Cassoulet? Hell, stop into Cochon Butcher, get your Duck Confit, fresh sausages, cured sausages, whatever you want to include, they will probably have it.
I was greeted at the deli case by Chef partner Warren Stephens holding out a sample plate of the house made Bacon Praline, which, as my friend Tim at Roux-B-Doo’s says, is like sugary crack. Seriously, it is. This isn’t the Praline Bacon at Elizabeth’s, awesome in it’s own right, rather it’s an actual Praline with chunks of the house made Kurobuta Bacon inside of it in place of the traditional Pecans. Awesome flavors.
After coming off of the rush of the Bacon Praline, I asked Chef Warren if it would be alright to take some pics around the store/sWine bar. He said sure and asked if I would like to go upstairs to see the curing room. I said hell yes, of course. He led me upstairs through the upstairs kitchen to the temperature controlled curing room, one of them actually, there is another one at Herbsaint, as well as the ones in the downstairs display cases.
We headed back downstairs so that I could order something for lunch, looking at all of that great food was killing me. I decided to order the Muffuletta, with all house made meats no less. Any loyal reader of my site knows that I would HAVE to order the Muffuletta on my first visit knowing that I am a Muffuletta junkie, and let me tell you, this one did not disappoint.
Cochon Butcher’s Muffuletta has an olive salad that is very finally chopped which I didn’t know if I would care for, as I usually prefer the olives pretty much just crushed a la Central Grocery, but it actually was a perfect accent to the finely cured meats and the cheeses without being overpowering. The olive salad was on the top and bottom of the sandwich. The bread was also perfect, light and crumbly as it should be. The Muffuletta could easily feed 2, in some cases 4, and at $12, especially considering everything is made in house, it’s a steal.
While I was gorging myself on the above awesome Muffuletta, Chef Warren brought me over a Lagniappe to try out, his Tartiflette that he was featuring as a small plate item. It was a lovely pairing of fingerling Potatoes, housemade Kurobuta Bacon, sweet onions, and a touch of heat, baked in a Gratin with of course the wonderfully stinky Reblochon cheese. Phenomenal flavors; the smokiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the onion, tender gold and buttery fingerlings, woodsy Thyme, and the spice of the peppers all tied together with the Robust creamy flavor of the Reblochon. Awesome job.
Well, I finally made it to Casamento’s. After several attempts over the last few years, for one reason or another, every time I’ve showed up to their door on Magazine Street with an empty stomach just moaning and groaning for Oysters, I would inevitably be met with a sign to crush my hopes and dreams for that meal period. CLOSED. Granted, it would have helped if I had checked their website or bothered to call, but honestly, I’m not that bright.
On the other hand though, sometimes New Orleans takes you where she wants to take you, or just gives you a nudge in the direction that you want to go. In my experience, this is not a town for itineraries, not if you want to do it right. Go with the wind, come back often, and eventually you will see everything that you want to see. Yesterday the wind finally took me to Casamento’s, and I have to say that it was well worth the wait. I now rank Casamento’s among the best places that I have eaten Oysters in the city, raw or cooked.
Casamento’s was opened in 1919 by Joseph Casamento an immigrant of Ustica, Italy, who decided to tile the whole restaurant for easy cleaning, the restaurant is often likened to an empty swimming pool. Here is a pic of the front of the restaurant section of the restaurant and Oyster bar (sorry for the blurry pic):
The restaurant has long been loved by locals and when Joseph Sr. died the restaurant was passed on to his son Joseph Casamento Jr. Sadly after years in the restaurant (which he lived above) Joseph Jr. passed away the night Hurricane Katrina hit. Here is a pic from one of my favorite books, the long out of print Time-Life book American Cooking: Creole and Acadian which shows both Joeseph Casamento Jr. and Sr. shucking Oysters for their hungry customers back in the seventies. (I didn’t know who to contact for permission for this pic, as the book is so long out of print. If the owner has any problem with me posting this image, email me and I will take it down immediately!)
The restaurant is now owned and run by Joseph Sr’s grandson, and Joseph Jr’s nephew CJ and his wife Linda Gerdes, he runs the kitchen and she runs the front, carrying on the traditions of the restaurant and fine cooking that locals and travelers have come to rely on from Casamento’s.
I started my lunch, with a half dozen on the half shell, beautifully shucked, plump, and delicious Louisiana Oysters. Casamento’s has ketchup, horseradish, and Louisiana hot sauce on the tables for mixing your own sauce.
My favorite part of the meal, or my first favorite that is, is the Oyster Stew, simply done with the best Oysters, perfectly poached in the milky broth, succulent with onions, green onions, with a hint of celery and thyme, and glistening pearls of butter of floating on top of the stew as it arrives.
By the way, Cassamento’s Oyster Stew Recipe is contained in Kit Wohl’s book New Orleans Classic Seafood, page 42. I ate a similar Oyster Stew at Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar in New York when I was a younger lad and didn’t really appreciate it’s simplicity, although Casamento’s version immediately reminded me of that day. I actually ate that Oyster Stew while sitting next to the now late Al Lewis a.k.a Grandpa Munster who was celebrating his birthday at his favorite restaurant. I remember quietly whispering to my friend in between slurps of soup, ‘is that Grandpa Munster??’ (quietly), as he slurped his Oyster stew and casually glanced over and nodded in affirmative, ‘M’hmm, THAT’s Grandpa Munster.’
Anyway, back to the meal at Casamento’s, last stop was the famous Oyster Loaf, perfectly fried Velvety Oysters served, not on the New Orleans French Bread, but rather on Casamento’s signature pan bread, thick slices of toasted bread which serves as a cradle for the perfectly fried Oysters. You can order it dressed or not. Casamento’s Oyster Loaf is dressed with Iceberg lettuce, tomato, and Mayonnaise, quartered sweet pickle on the side. I’m patting myself on the back for this picture, if you would like to do so also, please return my arm to it’s regular forward position to do so. 🙂
Well, Carnival is in full swing in New Orleans and I am in Detroit. Instead of beads, doubloons, or other trinkets, the Krewe of Mother Nature just threw us another helping of snow, and I have to say……This parade sucks.
Oh well, there is no reason that we can’t at least have some good food to remind us that winter does serve a purpose, at least in my kitchen; slow braised or stewed, stick to your ribs (and arteries) comfort food. Inexpensive cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal, chicken, whatever, slow cooked in a liquid or gravy of some kind until so tender that it practically melts off of the bone.
Tonight was Chicken Fricassee, Louisiana style with a roux, and the holy trinity. My roux here is a little lighter than some would prefer in some parts of Louisiana; I prefer a peanut butter colored roux for this dish. Also note that like a lot of my recipes I add the holy trinity in two stages, about 3/4 goes into the roux after it reaches the peanut butter stage, and the remainder goes in with the liquid. It is a layering of flavor and texture.
It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all of the flavor of the sauce, although I would just slightly under season with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit.
For browning the chicken:
1 Cup Flour seasoned with:
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
A few turns of Black Pepper
A healthy pinch of Cayenne
For the Fricassee:
1 Cup Home Rendered Lard, Bacon Drippings, Duck Fat or Vegetable Oil (if you must)
3/4 Cup Flour
2 Cups Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
1/2 Cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Cup Mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Quart Chicken Stock, preferably homemade
1 Bay Leaf
1 Bundle of Fresh Thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne to taste
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Hot sauce
1/2 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice
Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate.
When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside.
Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.
When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.
Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled Thyme and Bay leaf and stir in the chopped Thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with Green Onions.
If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.
Mother’s Restaurant has been on the corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas since 1938, named after Mary (Mother) Landry who originally owned the restaurant along with her husband Simon and their large family. The Landry family owned and operated the restaurant until 1986 when the Landry sons sold the restaurant to Jerry and John Amato, who still run it today. For a full history of the restaurant with lots of pictures visit here.
Every time that I have visited Mother’s there has always been a long line, even in the off season, nice to see. The line in my experience contains a nice mix of just about everyone, locals, tourists, lawyers (the courthouse is just down the street), people in suits, people in work uniforms, you name it.
The counter help may seem a bit short, but like any other great busy sandwich shop in New Orleans, New York or anywhere, it’s necessary to keep the line moving. As a matter of fact I refuse to eat at a deli in New York with friendly counter help, and insults only make the sandwich taste better. I’m not saying that the fine folks at Mother’s are rude, just don’t expect chit chat during the lunch rush.
The food is good, great Po Boys, Gumbos and soups, I remember having a really great Turtle Soup on a visit years back with nice chunks of Turtle Meat, not ground as in most restaurants. (My Turtle Soup Recipe) Here is their menu!
My favorite sandwich at Mother’s is the Ferdi Special; Roast Beef with Mother’s excellent baked Ham, dressed and with Debris Gravy. The portion seemed a bit leaner than I remember, but then again, maybe I can just eat more now. Actually there is no maybe about it, I can definitely eat more now. I guess the sandwich didn’t get smaller…I’ve gotten larger.
My wife Sheelah went for the Shrimp Po Boy as she usually does when it comes to Po Boys, nice portion of perfectly fried Shrimp, nicely dressed (by the way, Mother’s uses Cabbage to dress their Po Boys instead of shredded lettuce). We both had Zapp’s chips with the sandwich, which always just seems like the right thing to do.
I have to tell you folks, I haven’t been to Mother’s or New Orleans for some time now and looking at these pictures and writing this post makes me heartsick for New Orleans. Actually this site was founded on my heartsickness for New Orleans and her food, people, music, architecture, vibe, everything. It has warmed my heart immensely to hear from displaced folks from New Orleans and Louisiana who are away from their home, and have found at least a little piece of it via recipes and remembrances from my site. I hope this site can bring a little joy to your life as it has mine.