Growing up, one of my favorite poor boys was a four napkin roast beef and Swiss dressed. Four napkins, because that’s what it took to wipe the gravy trails from my forearms. Dressed, because in my world a poor boy is not a poor boy without a generous slather of mayo and layers of crisp shredded iceberg lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes and dill pickles I’m not a hundred percent sure when and where the Swiss cheese came into play, as the roast beef-Swiss combo is not a New Orleans standard. But I think Papa, my mom’s dad, nudged me in that direction one Friday evening while ordering at our favorite neighborhood poor boy shop, The Bakery (Following Katrina, the last owner of The Bakery, Gary “Koz” Gruenig, moved the beloved poor shop to Harahan. To this day, he still dishes up some of the best poor boys, fried seafood and plate lunches in NOLA under the name Koz’s. His son runs Koz’s Lakeview which is located on Harrison Avenue.) Today’s finger food is a playful spin on that childhood favorite.
As you all know, the main ingredient that sets a poor boy apart from other sandwiches is the New Orleans-style French bread upon which a poor boy is built. There’s nothing like those airy loaves with their thin, shattering crusts and pillowy insides. But I didn’t even consider that bread for these sliders. To begin with, I can’t get that bread in Atlanta (although many, many stores and bakeries claim to make it just like the New Orleans’ bakeries) and I knew if I had access to that wonderful bread it wouldn’t stand up to the puddles of sweet and savory butter that makes these sliders so irresistible (and brings me right back to my four-napkin memories). My original plan was to make the sliders with basic dinner rolls. Couldn’t find any—apparently that’s a holiday offering around here and I guess we’re not close enough to Thanksgiving. I then considered Hawaiian rolls, although I worried they’d be too sweet and soft when all was said and done. But as luck would have it, I happened upon a few bags of mini ciabatta rolls on my way to the King’s Hawaiian display. I had never seen these before and snagged all four bags (apparently these are seasonal items too). The mini ciabattas ended up being the perfect base for these sandwiches. They maintained their shape and texture even after sitting in the fridge for an hour and their neutral flavor did not get in the way of any of the other ingredients. I hope you’re able to find them or something similar in your neighborhood.
These sliders are great for big parties because they are fun to eat and are quite filling. They can also be made in advance, which is always a plus, and popped into the oven while your company’s enjoying their first cocktail. Oh, and speaking of cocktails, big parties are the perfect occasions for big batch recipes. One of my top crowd-pleasers is Whiskey Sour Punch. It’s an iconic drink to go along with my riff on an iconic sandwich.
Until next time …
Roast Beef and Swiss Sliders Recipe
2 tablespoons plus 1 stick butter, divided
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
24 mini ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
1 pound shredded roast beef (I prefer the Cajun roast beef)
12 slices baby Swiss, cut in half
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Coarse black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using 2 tablespoons butter, grease two 13x9x2-inch baking dishes. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and mustard. Place the bottom half of each roll in prepared dishes (they should fit snugly); spread evenly with mayonnaise mixture. Layer equal amounts of roast beef and 1 piece of cheese on top. Cover with the top half of each roll. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine reserved 1 stick butter, green onions, Lea & Perrins, brown sugar and garlic powder. Cover and microwave on high until butter is melted. Brush the tops of each roll with butter mixture. Pour the rest evenly over the sliders.* Sprinkle pepper over the tops of the sliders. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until tops are golden brown, 5-10 minutes more. Makes 24 appetizer servings.
MAKE AHEAD. At this point, sliders can be covered and refrigerated until ready to bake.
Whiskey Sour Punch Recipe
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups fresh orange juice, chilled
1 cup fresh lemon juice, chilled
2 cups bourbon
3 cups club soda, chilled
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
Make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. In a large cold beverage jar or punch bowl, combine the simple syrup, orange juice, lemon juice and bourbon. Just before serving, stir in the club soda and cherry juice. Makes 10 servings.