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'Debris' Is The Louisiana Term That Takes Sandwiches To The Next Level

New Orleans beef debris po'boy
New Orleans beef debris po'boy - Kubatina Katerina/Shutterstock

Sandwiches are a source of national, state, and even city-wide pride in the United States. The po'boy checks all the boxes as a New Orleans-born sandwich, Louisiana staple, and popular menu item at seafood restaurants nationwide. While catfish, fried shrimp, and oysters may be more well-known po'boy fillings, one of the original po'boy sandwiches was made with roast beef.

The invention of the po'boy is hotly debated, but the name of the sandwich itself dates back to 1929 when Bennie and Clovis Martin began feeding union workers on strike for free with roast beef, gravy, and french fry sandwiches. The roast beef po'boy became a city-wide sensation and just about a decade later gave rise to the now Louisiana-famous term "debris." According to Mother's Restaurant, the legendary New Orleans institution and self-proclaimed originator of the term, debris are the tasty remnants of roast beef that fall off the chuck as it's being sliced and served into a sandwich. These discarded beef shavings sit marinating for hours in the gravy that likewise collects at the bottom of the bin.

Mother's history page states that the term was coined by the original owner Simon Landry when a customer requested he add the bits of beef swimming in gravy instead of the slices of roast beef Landry was serving. Landry called the remnants "debris," a term that is now synonymous with a flavorful, meaty sandwich upgrade and is also a fixture on po'boy menus.

Read more: Styles Of Regional BBQ In The US

Debris Sandwiches In New Orleans, Louisiana, And Beyond

roast beef po'boy on french bread
roast beef po'boy on french bread - Jean Faucett/Shutterstock

While the original debris po'boy sandwich consisted of stewed bits of roast beef morsels, crust, and fat, today even Mother's has expanded the definition to include all types of meat. Many restaurants in Louisiana, including Mother's, now add all bits and drippings from an array of leftover slow-cooked meats into one ultra-savory and flavorful sandwich filling. Debris can also be used as sandwich toppers in standard roast beef po'boys.

For home cooks, debris po'boys can be made with the fall-apart chuck roasts, briskets, or even pork roast that come out of the crock-pot, Dutch oven, or pressure cooker reheated in their juices. The result of reheating meat in their drippings is an ultra-moist, melt-in-your-mouth sandwich filling that brings a decadent au jus element to pair with the po'boy's French bread. You could apply a debris twist on a classic French dip sandwich by leaving the chuck roast in the au jus instead of separating it into a dipping sauce. Plus, adding cheese and caramelized onions would provide a wonderfully rich, creamy, and sweet contrast.

If you have any leftover turkey and drippings after Thanksgiving, you can upgrade a classic Thanksgiving leftover into a debris turkey sandwich by combining and simmering the drippings and leftover turkey meat. Turkey debris would work perfectly in our hot turkey sandwich with cranberry mostarda recipe.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.