The Fifteen Minute French Dip

I’ve been craving a French dip sandwich ever since I tasted the original at Philippe’s in Los Angeles (The original French dip) and the Italian beef Sandwich at Taste Chicago, all on the same night.

When Jan barbecued tri-tip for dinner and we had lots of leftovers, I knew I finally had my chance to have this delicious sandwich again. I put away the slices of tri-tip, which Jan had already thinly sliced, and added a French baguette to our shopping list for the next day.

When it was time for meal preparation, we utilized more leftover ingredients for the other components of the dish (lots of cabbage left over from an Indian-themed feast—more on that to come) and made coleslaw with green cabbage, carrots, and raisins. We let that rest for a while, since it always seems to get better once the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar can meld together with the rest of the ingredients.  And we also started baking French fries in the oven, since those also took a little more time than our sandwiches, which Jan said would take less than 15 minutes to prepare.

To make the sandwiches, Jan began by getting water to a boil and adding beef bouillon, letting it simmer for about 5 minutes.  He then added slices of green onion and the pieces of tri-tip, allowing it to cook for another 5 minutes over low heat.  With about a minute before the beef was up, he placed the bread into the toaster oven, already cut into the desired sandwich lengths for each of us and split in half (but still attached at one end).  To mine, he added Muenster cheese to be toasted with the bread, and his bread he left plain.

When the toaster time was up, he used tongs to remove the pieces of beef from the broth and place them into the bread. The broth was placed into two bowls, one for each of us to dip our sandwiches in at the table. We added French fries and coleslaw to our plates and it was time to eat.

I didn’t follow the technique at Philippe’s of dipping my entire sandwich into the broth before serving, and instead dipped one corner of the sandwich at a time, just before taking a bite of that piece. And it wasn’t just because I didn’t have to drive all the way down to Los Angeles for a French dip sandwich—I enjoyed the homemade version the best—I liked the freedom of choosing whatever cheese I wanted, how thin or thick I wanted the beef sliced, and even down to determining the thickness of the broth. Jan took a cue from Philippe’s and added spicy peppers to his sandwich, and I remembered to steer clear of the spicy mustard, even though we still had the jar from our trip waiting in the refrigerator.

Even though leftover tri-tip is a great excuse for making this sandwich, we’ve also had great results using slices of roast beef from the deli-counter or lunch meat section, so leftover barbecue isn’t a requirement. With only requirements being bread, beef, bouillon, and a few minutes, I’m not going to let such a long time go by before having another.

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