Wednesday, June 20, 2012

French Dip Sandwiches (with homemade bread!)

Pinterest is my life. I use it whenever I have a free moment to meal plan for the week, and look for new and interesting recipes that my very picky family will eat. It's very hard to eat healthy when the people you cook for favorite food groups are bacon, butter, cheese, and meat. No veggies, no fruits, no whole grains, so I gotta sneak them in when I can. Luckily the baby will eat anything without much objection. Usually after a meal or two of me making them eat more healthy, I reward them with something extra delicious. I saw this pin a few months ago and added it to my board, Recipes to Try.

I attempted to make this last Saturday, got all the ingredients into the crock pot and was about to start making bread, when some sort of horrible 24 hour flu hit me like a ton of bricks and kept me down all day. The resulting misfortune actually lead to an A-ha! moment, as I had Charlie put the meat into the fridge for 2 days (We went to the San Diego Fair Sunday for Father's Day so the dips we're once again bumped from the menu). As a result, the meat had firmed up, making it ridiculously easy to cut and did not ready shred at all, but still remained super tender. Plus it had an extra 2 days to soak up more flavor, the fat solidified and I was able to scrape it off the juices, and I had the extra time to make the homemade bread! The meat was delicious, the bread however was not as much, and I blame me 100%.

First off my yeast was older than I wanted and because I knew I had yeast in the back of my mind I didn't think to buy more. I remedied that by buying more today at the store, because I am SO attempting this again for piece of mind. Secondly, I didn't follow my gut and by feeling, but I followed the recipe, simply because when baking with a new recipe for the first time I try not to deviate from the instructions too much, and I should have added more flour. The resulting bread was a bit flatter than anticipated (more like a cross between sourdough and ciabatta), and although it did have a nice chewy texture inside, it really did need fresher, faster acting yeast. Charlie said it "tasted gluey" but I think that adjective came from him misunderstanding the meaning of "gluten", as the bread tasted nothing like glue. I promise to make this again, and reblog the bread, but for now you can find the recipe I used here. The girl who runs the site says you can make these loaves for about .25 cents each, but that's not entirely true as she food stockpiles and I just don't have the room for that. The yeast alone cost me .25 cents a loaf. So just keep that in mind.

The meat is super easy to prepare, as all you do it throw it all in a crock pot and cook on low all day (about 6-8 hours) until the meat falls apart and shreds easily, except you don't want it to shred. If it does I have a great taco recipe for that that I'll post in the future. In fact the meat tasted an awful lot like my shredded beef taco meat, except my meat has a lot more flavor and a lot less juice. The original recipe can be found here.

You will need;
  • 2-3 lb chuck roast, boneless
  • 2 cans beef broth (next time I will use beef consomme)
  • 1 can french onion soup (next time I think I will add some Lipton onion soup mix to this as well for extra flavor as I felt the meat juice wasn't as deep of a flavor as I would have liked, also possibly an actual onion.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder 
  • thinly sliced cheese like provolone or swiss (optional)
*I do plan on making this again, as it was very good, but next time I really would like to add a few things. A whole sliced, and browned onion would really deepen the flavor, as would browning the meat prior to adding it to the crock pot. It's all about layers of flavor people, and this one, though good, fell flat and could really be improved on. For the level of easiness it allows, it's very good, but even an extra 30 minutes of prep would really make the flavor better. Also fresh garlic, and thyme would kick it up a notch.*

Put the meat into your crockpot, and pour the soup over the top. Season with spices, pop the lid on top and let it slow cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove meat from heat and let sit.Yes, if you don't have a crockpot, this can be done in the oven on very low heat (250*) as long as you TIGHTLY cover the meat with a lid or foil. I recommend allowing the meat to rest, cool, and be refrigerated at least 24 hours before slicing to prevent shredding, but if this recipe is calling your name, by all means cut the meat to the best of your ability and eat it tonight. Otherwise, eat it tomorrow. Slice french rolls lengthwise and toast. Pile meat on top of toasted bread.Place cheese slices on top of meat if using. "Dip" the top of the bread into the meat juices and place on top of sandwich. Serve with a side of juice for additional dipping. If you do plan on letting it rest 24 hours, reheat the meat put simmering in the meat juices at least 1 hour before serving.

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