We're not big sandwich eaters. Most of the sandwiches we eat are made with things we have on hand -- peanut butter, bologna, egg salad -- that can easily be put between two slices of bread. Occasionally we'll fix a grilled cheese sandwich, but that's the extent of our sandwich making, except for one other sandwich. We love French Dip Sandwiches so I make them every couple of months.
French Dip, as it's usually called, is a hot roast beef sandwich served on French or hoagie rolls with the au jus -- the unthickened natural juices from the cooked meat -- served in a bowl on the side. The recipe I'm sharing takes time to prepare, but there's very little work involved since it's cooked in a crock-pot.
I always cook roast in a crock-pot so I opt for an English roast which is a tough, but very flavorful, cut of meat. Inexpensive tougher cuts of meat are wonderful cooked in a crock-pot because the long cooking time makes them tender. An English roast needs to be cooked in liquid so it's ideal for this recipe.
Although the recipe calls for all visible fat to be removed from the roast, I leave a little bit for flavor. The roast -- it doesn't have to be browned or coated with flour -- goes in the crock-pot. The remaining ingredients are combined and poured over the roast. One ingredient, rosemary, needs to be crushed before being added to allow the flavor to be released. Rosemary is too hard for me to crush with my hands. I don't have a mortar and pestle so I put the rosemary on a cutting board and crush it with the bottom of a measuring cup. Add water to the crock-pot, put on the lid and turn the crock-pot to low.
After cooking 10 to 12 hours, the meat is very tender, but it needs to be shredded into smaller pieces for sandwiches. The easiest way to do this is with two forks. If you want to use cheese -- most restaurants use Provolone or Mozzarella -- put it on the bread first and then add the meat. Heat the sandwiches in a 350° oven for about 5 minutes, just until the cheese starts to melt. If you want the sandwiches plain, put the meat on the bread and skip heating them in the oven. Strain the au jus and put in small bowls for dipping.
Although the recipe is for sandwiches, we love the flavor of the meat so much I often serve this as an entree. I don't thicken the au jus for gravy. I strain the au jus and put it in a gravy boat. That way, we can use the leftover meat and au jus for sandwiches.
If you have any leftovers, the easiest way to reheat them is the same way you cooked them: in a crock-pot. I use a smaller 1 1/2-quart crock-pot for reheating because there's usually not a lot leftover. Since it's already cooked, it only takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours to reheat.
This is a great dish to cook when you're going to be gone all day. You can cook it when you're home, but the smell will have you salivating all day. Don't say I didn't warn you!