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Monday, April 22, 2013

Three Changes to Make Your French Dip Sandwich Special


French Dip sandwiches have been around for years. It's a basic sandwich made with roast beef, crusty bread, and thin gravy called "au jus." But some restaurants are adding onions, green peppers, and cheese -- changes that are far cry from the original.

Search the Internet and you'll find dozens of recipes for the lunchtime and dinnertime favorites. Some recipes use leftover beef roast, and others use meat cooked in a slow cooker. I made these sandwiches the other night and used leftover beef. Personally, I think the flavor of the sandwich has lots to do with how you season the meat.

While the oven pre-heated I rubbed the meat with olive oil. Then I sprinkled it with crushed rosemary, smoked paprika, garlic powder, thyme, freshly ground pepper, and a little salt. Thanks to the olive oil, the seasoning stays on the meat. To seal the outside of the roast I cooked it at 450 degrees for a half hour. I lowered the heat to 325 and continued cooking until the meat thermometer read 150 degrees -- rare to medium.

Be aware that when you cook a roast and take it out of the oven, it continues to cook for a few minutes. I made a thin sauce with water, au ju mix, and gravy flour. Some of the seasoning had fallen to the bottom of the pan, which added flavor to the sauce. This sauce became my dipping sauce later.
Rachael Ray has posted a recipe for this favorite sandwich on her website. Instead of gravy, she makes a sauce with butter, chopped shallot, dry sherry (optional), canned beef stock, and a little flour. A similar recipe from Georgia Downard is posted on the Food Network website. It, too, uses butter, shallot, garlic, beef broth, and a little white wine for extra flavor.

I checked my cookbook collection and found more recipes, only these had soy sauce in them. Since I'm trying to avoid salt I avoided these recipes. As good as all these recipes are, simple is often better. Three things make my French Dip sandwiches special, the seasoning on the meat, toasting the rolls ahead of time, and making the dipping sauce with leftover gravy. If your mouth isn't watering yet, it will be when you take your first bite of this sandwich.


1 cup leftover beef gravy (plain or mushroom)
1 cup water
2 rounded teaspoons of low-salt au jus mix (available in the soup aisle)
1 ciabatta roll per person (white or wheat)
Soft butter
4 thin slices of roast beef per person


In a small saucepan, whisk leftover gravy, water, and au jus mix together. Cover and cook over medium heat until steaming. Cut each roll in half and butter both halves. Toast rolls in a skillet over low heat, until the buttered side is a golden brown. (Do not over-toast.) Layer meat onto bottom half of each roll and top with remaining half. Ladle dipping sauce into individual bowls. Serve dipping sauce with sandwiches, a salad, or mixed fresh fruit.
Copyright 2013 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 35+ years and is the author of 32 published books. Her latest releases are "Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss" and "Help! I'm Rasing My Grandkids." Please visit her website and learn more about this busy writer.
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