Did you know that the French Dip Sandwich isn’t French? No surprise there. About the only thing French is the use of Au Jus. Strictly speaking, Au Jus is a French culinary term meaning “with juice”. It refers to meat dishes prepared or served together with a light gravy, or broth, made from the juices given off by the meat as it is cooked. Today we think of Au Jus as simply a beef juice served on the side of a sandwich, not necessarily coming from a particular hunk of beef as it cooks. Look in your local markets, and you can find premade Au Jus in jugs, cans, dried mixes – just about any form. Just heat if in a liquid form, or mix with liquid for the dry form before heating.
So why do we call a warm roast beef sandwich dipped in beef juices French Dip in the first place? As the story goes, depending upon which story you want to listen to, the French Dip sandwich came into existance in 1918, due to a mistake made by a Frenchman named Philippe Mathieu while preparing a sandwich on a French Roll. I kid you not. According to the story, Philippe was preparing a sandwich for a policeman and accidentally dropped the sliced French roll into the drippings of a roasting pan. The policeman liked the sandwich and came back the next day with some friends to order the sandwich dipped in the meat pan. From that day on, a new sandwich was born. It’s an American invention.
For this rendition of the famed French Dip, you will make your own Au Jus by incorporating Beef Consommé with a few essential ingredients for a dipping juice worth of its French lineage. The use of thin slices of Roast Beef from your favorite deli counter allows you to spend a little more time in the juice. Now if you happen to have a hunk of medium-rare roast beef and access to a good meat slicer, go for it! If not, a good deli should be able to slice their roast beef nice and thin. Make sure the slices are more from the center rather than the ends since the meat will be placed in the oven and the last thing you want is for the meat to be too dry or over-cooked.
French Dip Sandwiches with Au Jus
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Medium Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Flour
A Splash of White Wine
2 Cans Beef Consommé
1 ½ Lbs Roast Beef from the Deli (thin sliced
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Monterrey Jack Cheese (Optional)
4 Torpedo Rolls, split
Slice onion paper-thin either in rings or thin slivers.
In a skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Reserve half the onions, set aside.
Pour beef consommé into a sauce pan and warm over medium heat, about 5 minutes.
Spread the roast beef in a rimmed baking sheet. Season with Montreal Steak seasoning, toss to blend and spread out. Moisten with a little beef consomme, then top with the reserved half of the onions. Set aside and finish Au Jus.
Sprinkle remaining onions with flour and a splash of white wine. In a slow, steady stream, add beef consommé. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce to simmer and let simmer until ready to serve.
Place the baking sheet of roast beef into a warm oven (about 325-degrees) for about 6-8 minutes, just enough to warm the meat without drying it out. While the meat is warming, bring the Au Jus to a boil, then simmer until ready to use.
Lightly butter inside of split rolls. Place on a warm griddle to lightly toast, about 3-4 minutes.
Divide warmed roast beef into four piles, fill each toasted roll with the meat. If desired, top filling with sliced cheese and pop under the broiler just long enough for the cheese to melt.
Cut in sandwiches in half and serve with Au Jus for dipping. (Ramekin cups work well).
Don’t forget the French Fries!
Happy dipping everyone!