Cast Iron

Poker-Break Pulled Beef Sandwiches

August 13, 2018
5 Ratings
Photo by Jenny Huang
  • Serves a crowd
Author Notes

My mom gave her approval to my fancy-pants additions of brûleéd (blackened) onions and tomatoes, but I dare not mess with the Lipton Onion Soup Mix, because it works some sort of mysterious processed magic here; I am a believer. Historically, this beef stews slowly overnight in a crockpot, but I like to bake it in the oven for five hours at a slowly decreasing temperature, maintaining a gentle burble in the braising liquid, until the meat fibers become soft enough to be pulled like taffy. —Amy Thielen

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: The Secret Weapon in Mom's Underground Poker Party Sandwiches. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 medium sweet onions, such as Vidalia
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 5 to 5 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast (chuck eye steaks, boneless short ribs, and chuck steaks work as well)
  • 1 packet Lipton brand onion soup mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • Crusty white buns, for serving
  • Bread-and-butter pickles or sliced pickled pepperoncini, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and brûleé the onions and tomatoes—onions first. Lop the tops off the onions and just shave the root ends to leave them intact, peel off the papery skin, and halve them crosswise, along their equators. (To facilitate clean-up, you may line the pan with a single layer of foil.) Lay the onions face-down in the hot, dry pan and cook, over a controlled high heat, until their rings turn frankly black and the tops remain uncooked, about 15 minutes. Remove and reserve. Halve the roma tomatoes and roast them in the same face-down fashion in the pan, until blackened on the edges. Reserve.
  3. Slice the chuck roast into 3-inch-thick slabs, and layer in a heavy braising covered braising pot, such as a Le Creuset braiser. Mix together the onion soup mix, thyme, salt, and pepper, and sprinkle evenly over the meat. Add the soy sauce and Worcestershire, and mix with your hands to coat. Tuck in the brûleéd onions and tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaves, add the beef stock and then enough water to reach 1/2 inch below the surface of the meat. (You want the beef to iceberg above the braising liquid.)
  4. Cover the pot with a heavy lid, and bake at 325° F. for one hour, then turn the oven down to 300° F. and cook another two hours, until the meat is tender-ish. The liquid should be bubbling gently. Set the lid offset, turn the oven down to 250° F. and bake for another two hours, or until the meat is fully tender but still moist. (At this point you may cool the braised beef to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for serving the following day.)
  5. Pull out the onions, tomatoes and bay leaves, and then using a small ladle, skim off the excess fat pooling on the surface. (Discard, or save the vegetables and excess fat to enrich a pan of cooked beans.) With tongs, pull and twist the meat until gently shredded. Serve the warm meat on sliced crusty buns, with plenty of juice, topped with an optional bread-and-butter or pepperoncini.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Patricia Silvina Knass
    Patricia Silvina Knass
  • Amy Thielen
    Amy Thielen
  • Alexis Krestos Rybny
    Alexis Krestos Rybny
  • Scott Basye
    Scott Basye
Amy Thielen

Recipe by: Amy Thielen

Amy is a TV cook, contributing editor at Saveur, and James Beard Award–winning author of Give a Girl a Knife and The New Midwestern Table.

7 Reviews

Patricia S. May 3, 2020
I did it yesterday. Because the lockdown and where I live (Argentina) I had change some ingredients : no soup, no sauces , instead stock I use half of a bottle of Chardonnay . But was delicious! To prepare the sandwich, I made butter and milk buns.
Anna November 11, 2018
Wow, I halved the recipe and it turned out so good! I am going to turn the au jus into gravy to have over mashed potatoes and have a salad on the side topped with peas. Beef is sticking to original format; on toasted French bread topped by pickled hot banana peppers. Thanks so much for sharing recipe 😋
Kate August 20, 2018
Looking forward to trying this dish. Enjoyed your show on food network. Made many of your recipes with great results.
Amy T. August 16, 2018
Yes, you can make this in the crockpot. My mom always did.
Scott B. July 25, 2019
I'm making this this weekend for a dinner party. Would you not brown the chuck roast pieces first?
Ethyl July 27, 2019
My sister has made this several times (and we have a batch going currently) and said she never does and it turns out great! Hope that helps!
Alexis K. August 16, 2018
Can this be done in crock pot- same amount of liquid?