Sandwich #179–“Not Your Mother’s Roast Beef” Spicy French Dip

By 300 Sandwiches

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179rbfrenchdip-copy-2On Sunday nights of my childhood, my mother often made pot roasts.

She’d throw the meat in a roasting pan with potatoes and carrots around late afternoon, while my dad and I were engaged in a football or basketball game (Go Bears! Go Bulls!). Dinner would be ready by the time “60 Minutes” came on. But roast is often dry, so mom would serve the meat with a side of gravy. The condiment is on my Forbidden Foods list. It’s like lumpy brown milk to me. So I just ate dry beef. Which was…dry.

But a few days ago, a Sunday night where E and I had no plans except to sit on the couch and enjoy the night, I had this itch to make roast beef. I had never made a roast. It seemed like something only a very experienced home cook—or an archetypical Supermom—would make, something Clair Huxtable would make for good ol’ Dr. Heathcliff.

But a roast beef French Dip, cooked in its own jus in the Crock-Pot? That seemed like an easy, tasty twist on my mom’s old Sunday pot roast. Plus, the meat would stay moist in its own juices.

As I was pulling ingredients out of the cupboard, I discovered homemade spices from my mom’s next door neighbor, Marie, who had given them to me last Christmas. When I opened the jar, the delicious smell of sun-dried tomatoes and parsley hit me in the nose. I scooped a heaping tablespoon into the broth, along with smoked paprika and chili flakes, before I set the timer to 6 hours.

When the beef was done, the spicy meat smell wafted throughout the apartment. After I took a taste, I really wanted to call my mom and brag about how awesome my roast was, but I didn’t want her to be offended (BUT IT WAS FREAKING DELICIOUS!). I took out the roast and shredded the meat to stuff onto toasted challah rolls. When dinner was ready, E ate his sandwich without pausing for air.

“Honey, this is one of your best ones,” he said. Then, he went back to the kitchen to make a second sandwich.

Since we had leftovers, I packed the sandwich and the jus as lunch for E the next day. It was so good, he even remembered to bring it to the office. Only after E sent me a photo of his finished meal did I proudly call my mom to share the recipe.

4 rolls (I used challah rolls, but baguettes are fine, too)
1 2-3 pound chuck round roast
1 1/4 cup beef broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 1/2 tablespoon special tomato herbs (or, about one teaspoon each of dried parsley and sun-dried tomatoes flakes should work, too)
3 garlic cloves
1 sliced onion
salt and pepper to taste

Place roast in Crock-Pot with sliced onion. Mix other ingredients into small bowl, and pour all over meat. Set Crockpot for 6 hours on medium or 4 hours on high.

When meat is finished, place in a glass dish and pull apart into small pieces with a knife and fork. Take remaining juice, strain through a sieve into a bowl, and if necessary, skim any fat off the top. Add two or three jalapeno slices into jus for an extra spicy kick.

Scoop meat onto buns, and serve jus in a small dish or bowl with sandwich. Makes at least four sandwiches.

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