Beef Pho Banh Mi
- For the Beef:
- 2 1/4 pounds boneless beef chuck or cross-rib roast, cut into 2 pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons light or dark brown sugar
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into thick slices
- Chubby 1 1/2 inch section ginger, peeled, cut into chunks, and smashed
- 3 star anise (24 robust points total)
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 medium cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
- 1 2/3 cups water
- For the Pickles:
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 ounces bean sprouts
- 2/3 cup matchstick-cut carrots
- 2 medium scallions, green part only, cut into 1 1⁄2-inch lengths
- To Assemble Sandwich:
- 6 baguette-style rolls, bolillo rolls or other light bread
- Maggi Seasoning sauce (optional)
- 2 jalapeño or Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
- 1 small English cucumber, cut into rounds, ovals, or seeded strips
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, mint, and/or Thai basil leaves
Adapted from wsj.com
Cook the Beef:
Use a 5- to 6- quart (5 to 6 l) Dutch oven or lidded casserole to hold the meat comfortably. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F (160°C). Follow the instructions to ready the beef, spices, and aromatics. Brown the meat and deglaze the pan and then replace the meat and other ingredients. Bring to a simmer on the stove, then cover and slide into the oven to cook for about 2 hours. Turn the beef at the 1-hour mark. Test for doneness with a fork.
Meanwhile, Make the Pickle:
In a small saucepan, combine the salt, sugar, vinegar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Let cool completely.
Put the bean sprouts, carrot, and green onion in a deep bowl. Add the cooled brine. Use fingers to toss; the vegetables won’t yet be covered by brine. Set aside for 15 to 25 minutes, turning the vegetables two or three times to expose them to the brine. The pickle is ready when the vegetables are nearly covered by the brine, taste pleasantly tangy, and feel crunchy-soft. Drain and use within 2 hours.
When the beef is done, slide to a cool burner. Let the pressure decrease naturally, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to avoid the hot steam. The beef should be chewy but reasonably tender; poke with a fork to test. If not, replace the lid and cook for another 5 minutes, releasing pressure through the steam vent or under cold running water. Remove the beef, loosely cover to prevent drying, and let cool until warmish to make slicing easier.
Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a shallow saucepan, discarding the solids; lining the strainer with muslin isn’t necessary since a superclear broth isn’t key. If needed, defat as you would a pho broth.
achieve a concentrated pho flavor to later season the meat and bread, boil the liquid for 5 to 8 minutes, until reduced by one-third to one-half of its original volume. Taste to check the flavor. Take off heat and cover. (Or, cool and then refrigerate the liquid and beef separately for up to 3 days.)
Assemble the Sandwiches:
Crisp the bread in a preheated 325°F (160°C) toaster oven or regular oven for 3 to 6 minutes; if the bread is very soft, rub the crust with wet hands to moisten before crisping at 350°F (180°C) for about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice the beef across the grain and warm in the cooking liquid over medium-low heat to moisten and soak up flavor.
Briefly cool the bread, then slit lengthwise and hollow out some of the insides to make room for the filling. Line the bread with mayonnaise. Drizzle the cooking liquid or Maggi Seasoning sauce on the mayo for umami notes. Working from the bottom up, line each sandwich with the beef, a handful of pickled bean sprouts, 3 or 4 chile slices, 4 to 6 pieces cucumber, and 1 to 2 tablespoons herbs. Serve whole or cut in half crosswise. Offer extra pickled bean sprouts and the remaining cooking liquid on the side.