Beef braised with garlic and red wine to the point of tender collapse, then stuffed into a fresh hunk of bread … yes please! This, to my mind, is the king of the PO’ boys, the traditional Louisiana sub sandwiches. The debris gravy is made from all the lovely juices and caramelized bits left over from braising, thickened into a tasty sauce that soaks the bread with deliciousness. Be warned – you’ll need plenty of napkins as PO’ boys are gorgeously messy! you will need to begin this recipe at least 8 hours before you want to eat, as the beef requires a long, slow cooking time.
Preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C Fan/Gas Mark 1. Take a small, sharp knife and pierce deep slits all over the beef. Poke the garlic slices well into the slits, ensuring they are completely hidden within the meat so they won’t fall out and burn when you are browning the beef. Season generously all over with salt and pepper.
Add half the oil to a deep flameproof casserole dish – a heavy cast-iron dish is ideal – and set over a high heat. When the oil is smoking hot, add the beef and brown well all over – the deep caramelisation adds much in terms of flavour, so do get a bit of colour into it.
Remove to a plate, reduce the heat to low and add the remaining oil to the casserole dish, followed by the onion and carrot, stirring to soften a little for a couple of minutes. Return the beef to the pan along with any juices, then pour in the beef stock and red wine and tuck in the thyme. Bring to a simmer then cover with a tight-fitting lid and slide into the oven. Allow to cook very slowly for around 6–8 hours, turning the joint every couple of hours if you can to ensure even cooking, until it is really tender. You can test whether it’s ready by trying to tease the meat apart with a fork – it should give easily; if not, cook for a little longer.
Turn off the oven. Lift the meat from the casserole dish and set aside on a plate in the oven to keep warm. Place 2 tablespoons of the cooking sauce into a heatproof glass and set aside to cool. Set the casserole dish on the hob over a high heat and boil for about 10 minutes until the sauce is reduced by half. Stir the cornflour into the cooled reserved juices until you have a smooth paste. Pour into the dish and stir until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat.
Remove the beef from the oven and cut into thick slices, dropping them into the gravy as you go and stirring to coat. To serve, slice each piece of bread through the middle and open out, but leave top and bottom hinged together. Add a few slices of beef to each, plus a little sauce. Top with lettuce, tomato and gherkin slices and finish with a little mayonnaise. Serve immediately.