French Dip, You Dip, I Dip

posted in: Meat & Poultry, Recipes | 7


Only until recently, during a trip to California, did I become aware that French Dip wasn’t something you dunk potato chips and veggies in, or that it wasn’t invented in France. There, it was a sandwich. Here, I decide to make one. The recipe that Ben’s mom provided for this was so tasty that I wonder why this side of the country hasn’t been so quick to catch on. I can just see the single-serving cups of au jus at Subway if it did.

Further educating my East Coast-oriented palate, I learn that French Dip sandwiches are the Los Angeles-born offspring of a French deli worker named Philippe Mathieu who, in a charming tale that resembles the potato chip invention, accidentally dropped a sandwich in a pan of meat juices and served it to a delightfully surprised police officer in 1918. Or like that charming tale of the neanderthal who accidentally drops their meat into the fire and discovers they enjoy it better. That’s point two for the clumsy cook.

If you’re not sure which type of roast beef to buy out of your options at the supermarket deli counter (i.e. Boar’s Head brand vs. the store-made one), ask the deli guy if you can try a slice. If you’re afraid of being obnoxious, think again–they’ll almost always offer a taste of the store-made kind if you ask, and these guys are so bored from you not shopping at the deli counter that they would probably take any request you might have. Generally speaking, the rarest-looking roast beef is most upscale; choose whichever kind you like the best.

French Dip Sandwiches
(makes 2 sandwiches)

1/2 french bread loaf, quartered and sliced open
1/2 lb roast beef
1 bottle good beer (ale, lager, but not too dark–I used Negro Modelo and it was a bit too bitter for me)
1 tbspn butter
2 tbspn ketchup
1 tspn Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1/8 tspn oregano
Salt, pepper

Heat a saucepan and melt butter. Add garlic, ketchup, worcestershire, and oregano and stir thoroughly. Slowly add beer and bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add all the roast beef to the pan and stir until heated through. Drain the roast beef, and place inside bread. Serve sandwiches “au jus” for dipping.

Cost Calculator:
(for 2 servings)

1/2 lb roast beef (at $6.99/lb): $3.49
1/2 loaf French bread (at $1.29/loaf): $0.65
1 bottle good beer (at $8.99 for six): $1.50
Butter, ketchup, worcestershire, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano: ≈ $0.20

Total: $5.84

Health Factor:

Five brownie points – this recipe has a lot of carbs with the beer and bread, but the meat is generally fairly lean, and there’s less butter than I would have imagined in the sauce. It’s very filling and delicious though, and makes a good alternative to a hamburger.

7 Responses

  1. jenblossom

    My ex-husband’s family had a tradition of Standing Rib Roast on New Year’s Day, and we always used some of the leftover roast beef and juices to make French dips. I remember his mom using the little packets of “au jus” mix from the grocery and mixing that with the natural juices from the meat.

    French Dip is still one of my favorite ways to use leftover rib roast – I’ll definitely have to play with your recipe.

  2. Mary Sue

    Our Subways do offer wee cuppas of au jus, but it’s mixed up from powder.

  3. Yvo

    Hmm… you know, from growing up in Queens (I haven’t frequented too many diners in Manhattan), I always saw French dip on the menu… I think I found out what it was “the hard way” and really didn’t like it. But that was probably at a crappy diner. Oh wait… or maybe the numerous TGI Applegans that I used to frequent while in college had it and I tried it there. Anyway, your version sounds so delightfully easy and looks pretty good too. Perhaps another try is in order 🙂

  4. Sue

    Hey! You did find some decent food while in LA! I feel better now.

    Good blog 🙂

  5. Hannah

    I work at a Quiznos- We have a “steakhouse beef dip” that does indeed come with a single serving cup of au jus. It’s actually pretty good, in my humble opinion. 🙂

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