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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Make good use of cooking debris

When I first heard the word debris in cooking terms, the place was Mother’s restaurant in New Orleans. Here they would take the pieces that fell off of the roast and put it on some of their sandwiches. It became so popular that they now have to cook a roast just to make what was once a byproduct. What a tasty byproduct! I rank it right up there with bacon grease for flavoring a dish.


So what can you do with debris other than putting it on sandwiches. Let you imagination run wild. Today, along with the recipe to make beef debris, I am sharing two recipes. The first is an appetizer that you need to serve with lots of napkins, Sweet Potato Cheese Fries with Debris. The second is a twist on a low country classic, Debris and Shrimp Grits. So go to the store, buy a roast, and Let’s head to the kitchen!


Roast Beef Debris


Here is how you make the debris. It’s a long cooking process but worth the wait. It’s a great addition to PoBoy sandwiches as well as other dishes.


3 tablespoons canola oil

1 (3 3/4-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 cups beef stock

1 cup sliced yellow onions

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

4 cloves garlic


Preheat oven to 325℉.

In a medium cast-iron Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Add beef to Dutch oven; cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Remove beef from pot; add stock, onion, tomato paste, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and garlic. Return beef to the pot, spooning some of the liquid over beef.

Bake, covered, until very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Place beef on a cutting board. Let stand for 10 minutes. Shred beef; place 1 cup of beef in cooking liquid in pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; boil until slightly thickened; about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in remaining shredded beef.


Sweet Potato Cheese Fries with Debris


I have always enjoyed a large plate of cheese fries. It started out as just plain old melted cheese topped French fries. As I got older, I started adding things. Of course, bacon was the first. Here’s a different twist on a classic.


1 (20-ounce) bag frozen waffle cut sweet potato fries

1 (8-ounce) block sharp white Cheddar cheese, crumbled

2 cups Roast Beef Debris, heated

1/4 cup chopped green onions


Prepare sweet potatoes according to oven package directions. Top with Cheddar cheese; bake until cheese is melted. Spoon Roast Beef Debris onto fries. Sprinkle with green onions.


Debris Shrimp and Grits


Here’s a version of Surf and Turf that you serve in a bowl. If you like, you can add your favorite cheese to the grits for more flavor. This dish proves that grits are not just for breakfast anymore.


4  cups chicken stock, divided

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup stone-ground grits

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo fresh shrimp (tails left on)

1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning

2/3 cup seafood stock

2 cups Roast Beef Debris, heated


In a large saucepan, bring chicken stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to a boil over medium-high heat; whisk in grits. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender and thickened, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons butter, cream and thyme. Cover until ready to use.

In a large skillet, heat oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning. Remove from skillet. Stir seafood stock into skillet, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir shrimp into remaining liquid in skillet. Serve shrimp with grits and Roast Beef Debris.


Who would have thought that the pieces at the bottom of the roasting pan could be turned into a useful ingredient? All it takes is imagination and the desire to create in the kitchen. There are no rules you have to follow. All that matters is the taste of the finished dish.

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