Thursday, August 5, 2010

French Dip

When I was a kid, my sister, Anna, decided to make our family a meal she had first had in the school lunch room: french dip. At first, I told her I didn't want to try it. I don't like roast beef sandwiches, and to this day I'm not a fan. But she looked at me and told me I had to try it. From that day forward, a beautiful relationship was born. I loved french dip and it's accompanying cup of au jus. If I go to a restaurant and french dip is on the menu, chances are, I'm going to order french dip.

Now, I've made french dip before. Typically I use deli sliced roast beef, lay it in a hoagie roll, top with some cheese, and broil it. And for the au jus, well, I'm sorry to say, I used the little packet that is in the seasoning aisle. You know, next to the taco seasoning?

I have seen the light, thanks to this excellent recipe by a new favorite food blog, Our Best Bites. The recipe is so simple, inexpensive, and definitely worth the extra time. The recipe is at the bottom but here are the instructions.
Start by seasoning roast beef with salt and pepper. I used a frozen rump roast and I was terrified the whole day that it would be dinnertime and I'd have frozen meat to serve. Anyway, sear the meat with a little olive oil in the pan on all sides. This acts to lock in the flavor and juices of the meat.

Place the seared roast beef in your crock pot. See that plasticy thing in my crock pot? It's a crock pot liner. You can find them next to the plastic wrap at your grocery store. Love. At the end of cooking for hours and hours, rather than soaking the pot over night, I just ball it up and toss it then wipe out the crock pot.

Anyway, place two packets of Liptons Onion Soup Mix on your roast. Off-brand is okay too, but seriously, put both packets in. I forgot and added the second one halfway through. :)

Add two cans of beef broth.

And two cups of water.
You just made your au jus. You're awesome.

Cover the crock pot. If you thought ahead and defrosted your roast you can just cook this on low for about 8 hours. If your meat is frozen, then cook on high until the liquid is boiling. Once it has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low. I cooked it about 4 hours on high, and 4-5 hours on low.
I was going to take a picture of all the shredded beef, but the family got home and life happened. So once your meat is cooked (and it will be cooked! No frozen beef for you!), remove it from the crock pot and shred it with a fork.
Put your meat on hoagies (I did 10 small hoagies and had enough leftovers for a big sandwich for Gary for tomorrow), and top with a slice of provolone. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and the bread is lightly browned. Serve with the au jus in the crock pot.

I loved this. I really did. Much more rewarding than anything that can come out of a little seasoning packet. And I really, really loved being done making dinner at 9 a.m.

Here's your recipe, from Our Best Bites:
French Dip Sandwiches

1 2.5-3 lb. beef roast (you can use a frozen roast if you want)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1-ounce packages dry onion soup mix
2 c. water
2 cans beef broth
6-8 large buns (or more...6 would be VERY generous servings!)
Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and rub roast with salt and pepper.
When very hot, carefully place roast in pan and sear on all sides. You're not cooking the meat, you're just browning it quickly on all sides to add flavor and seal in the juices.
Place in crockpot and sprinkle with onion soup mixes. Pour water and beef broth over roast.
Cook 8-10 hours on low or cook 4-5 hours on high and another 3-4 hours on low. It's hard to screw this part up; basically, the longer it cooks, the more tender it will be. But you know it's done when you pop a fork in it and the meat just falls apart. When meat is ready, shred with a fork.
Place meat in crusty rolls. Top with cheese and broil open-faced in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melty.
Ladle juices into small cups for dipping and enjoy!

Of course, here's your 4x6 recipe card. Click to open, then right-click to save.


  1. Looks Sooo good. Gonna try it.
    ~Mary (sorry, had to use Chanceys google account to post a comment and it says "chad")


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