Sandwich #29–“Dark and Stormy” French Dip

By 300 Sandwiches

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This week was super busy. It’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. I write about fashion, so Fashion Week keeps me out at both shows and parties, plus I have to looks my chicest and skinniest next to all of the models, editors and other fashion hangers on that believe Champagne and cigarettes make for a well balanced diet.

E hardly sees me during Fashion Week—one day I left the house at 8 AM for a show, and didn’t come back until 3 AM the next morning after attending a dinner and three parties for designers! I air-kissed my way all over town, and my feet were killing me from strutting around in heels all day. But killing me more was the guilt of not having made E a sandwich that night as I had planned.

Last night, I planned to come home at a decent hour and make late night sandwiches. But then I got a call from a celebrity friend who was in town filming a television show, and we ended up on a tour of New York nightlife. Next thing you know, I’m sloshing wine next to Lindsay Lohan (who hurled some Lego-like object at us after mistaking us for someone else), asking Gerard Butler about his workout regimen (that tight black t-shirt he had on was showing off his muscles! I HAD to compliment him!), talking fashion with Kimora Lee Simmons and dancing to deep house music until 3 am. This time, E came along with me.

After our raucous night, E and I decided to have a tickle fight when we got home, and I somehow fell out of bed and onto the hardwood floor on top my right arm, crushing it underneath all of my body weight (no, we were not drunk. Just silly). I had to sleep with a bag of ice on it, and I woke up the next morning in such pain I couldn’t make a fist without screaming. Brushing my teeth with my left hand was a messy endeavor–more toothpaste landed in the sink than in my mouth. I stayed in bed sleeping off the pain most of the day.

Despite the injury and the time constraints, I wanted to make E a sandwich. He was craving a French Dip. It was a perfect hearty late afternoon meal to have before I threw on a ball gown and headed to yet another Fashion Week party packed with food averse fashionistas. I popped a few Advil, and had E help me lift the heavy pots and pans needed to start cooking.

Though I could have gotten our jus pre made with some store bought beef consomm√©, I wanted to do it homemade. A bit of red wine, beef broth, and browned beef bones–which provide all of that rich beef flavor–produced a taste French dip dip.

Just as I popped the bread in the oven to toast, a huge thunderstorm rolled into New York. The sky turned a Halloween appropriate black and grey. Sheets of rain poured down on Brooklyn. We tucked into our sandwiches with a glass of Layer Cake Shiraz, while watching the storm from our couch. The pain in my arm was now negligible. With a full tummy and an empty wine glass, I almost lulled myself into another nap.

“Cinderella, you’ve got to start getting ready for the ball,” E reminded me.

Right. I was off to another Fashion Week party, so I left the dishes behind as I got yet another chic ensemble together for tonight’s events.

“DARK AND STORMY” FRENCH DIP
3 Italian rolls
1/2 pound roast beef
3 tablespoons horseradish
2 teaspoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

For the Jus:
3-4 pounds beef bones (if not in the freezer section of your grocery store, ask your local butcher for leftover beef bones, they’ll usually give you some free or super cheap from their stockroom)
2 1/2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup red wine (can be the cheap stuff, just pick a richer blend, like a Merlot)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Jus: Heat oil in large, deep-bottomed pot. Cook beef bones in the vegetable oil and sear until golden brown (as soon as you put the bones in the pot, oil and fat will splatter up from the pan. Prepare yourself, and have a lid handy). Work the bones in the pan and adjust the heat as needed so the sides of pot don’t burn. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, then remove bones from pot, leaving behind the brown juice and beef bits (all of the flavor is in the bits). Save those bones on a separate plate or in a saucepan–you’ll need them later.

Next add the wine into the large pot and simmer for another 3-4 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir frequently. Then add the bones back to the liquid, and add beef broth, salt and pepper, and simmer for about 15 minutes with the pot covered with a lid. Next, uncover the pot, cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat and reduce the liquid to about 2 1/2 cups. Remove the bones–for good this time (you can trash them at this point). Get a fine mesh strainer and set over a medium sized saucepan, and strain the jus into the saucepan. Throw out the bits accumulated in the strainer, and let the jus sit for about 5 minutes. Skim any fat accumulated on top off of the jus with a spoon, and if needed, keep warm on stove on very low heat.

To make sandwiches: cut rolls into desired sizes (we had two 10 inch baguettes that we cut in half to make four sandwiches). Lightly butter one side of the bread and toast slightly in oven or broiler to get bread crunchy. Remove from oven, and coat with horseradish or spicy mustard. Layer the beef on the sandwich–but before you do, dip roast beef into the jus before you place the meat on the bread (trust me). Then top with other side of bread. Serve with small side bowls of jus. Dip sandwich in jus before each bite.

Recipe adapted from here.

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