If you’ve never had a French dip sandwich, you’re missing out. The sandwich starts out with beef that is roasted until extremely tender, which is then thinly sliced and put onto a not-too-crusty roll, either with or without cheese. The juice from cooking the meat is collected, seasoned and poured into a small dish. As you eat the sandwich, you dip each bite into the juices on the side, making the meat extra juicy and getting a huge boost of flavor.
The sandwich is not french at all. The name comes from the fact that it is made with a french roll – a medium sized white bread roll that resembles a baguette with a softer crust and makes good sandwiches in general – and it is dipped into beef juices as you eat it. Dipping does not make the bread soggy, much as dipping a cookie into a glass of milk does not make it soggy as long as you pick up the cookie and eat the milk-soaked bit immediately; prolonged soaking will cause sogginess, but that is why the sandwich is called a dip and not a soak.
I love this sandwich, but not all restaurants do it well, so I’ve been wanting to try and make it at home for some time. I started with an extremely popular recipe from Allrecipes that calls for using a slow cooker to make the meat tender. I used the same technique, but changed some of the flavoring ingredients and used a different cut of beef. The result was amazing. The beef was incredibly flavorful, as was the “au jus” that the recipe produced. I made three huge sandwiches with it but if I had used smaller rolls, I would have been able to easily satisfy 4-6 people. This is definitely a new staple recipe for me.
Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
approx 3 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast
16-oz. beef broth (1 1/2 cans)
1 10.5-oz. can condensed French onion soup
6-oz red wine
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 French rolls
sliced provolone cheese, optional
Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat all over with salt and pepper.
Pour beef broth, condensed French onion soup, red wine and garlic powder into slow cooker and place beef roast into liquid.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Slow cookers have different time intervals that you can select, so work with your cooker. Depending on how the settings on your slow cooker work, the time will vary. Since this is cooking in liquid, you don’t have to worry about the meat drying out in the same way you might if you were roasting the meat in the oven. Mine took 7 1/2 hours and was falling apart tender.
Take beef out and rest it, covered with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Slice beef and return to slow cooker on low or very low for 30 minutes.
Lightly toast the bread and evenly distribute cheese between rolls, if using. Divide beef onto rolls and spoon the beef juice* into ramekins or other small bowls and eat everything while it is hot. Serve each sandwich with its own dip.
*Note: If there is excess fat in your au jus, simply pour it from the slow cooker into a large measuring cup and let it stand for about 5 minutes so the fat separates. Skim it off, then pour the juice into serving cups.