CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Italian Dip Sandwiches

Are you tired of fixing that beef roast the same old way?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with throwing a roast ― after it’s been browned ― in a Dutch oven with some potatoes, carrots and an onion for a couple of hours. That’s always a delightful meal.

But if you’re up for a change of pace, a French dip is a good place to start.

The French dip is a hot sandwich that consists of thinly sliced roast beef on a “French roll,” baguette or hoagie bun. It is usually served au jus, that is, with beef juice from the cooking process.

Back in the old days, Whitey’s in East Grand Forks used to serve a French dip sandwich that was out of this world. Over the the years since the Flood of 1997, I’ve been hard-pressed to find another one that could come close to it.

That’s until coming across the following recipe in one of the many cookbooks I’ve been collecting the past 40 or so years. The recipe has a distinct Italian twist ― ala Chicago ― taking much of its flavor from the herbs basil, oregano and thyme.

My sandwiches also featured some roasted red bell peppers, slices of mild yellow pepper rings and slices of provolone cheese on toasted hoagie buns.

That’s quite a stretch from the old-fashioned Sunday pot roast and a mighty tasty one at that!

Italian Dip Sandwiches
3 cups boiling water
5 beef bouillon cubes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1½ teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons dried parsley
1½ teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
1 3-pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of most fat (can substitute elk, venison or bison)
8 hoagie buns
16 slices provolone cheese
1 16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, sliced
1 16-ounce jar mild sliced pepper rings
Turn 6-quart slow cooker to high heat. Add boiling water, beef bouillon and Worcestershire. Combine remaining seasonings in a small bowl. Sprinkle over beef broth and whisk to combine. Add roast and flip to coat both sides. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low 8 to 10 hours. Shred beef by using two forks to pull it apart. Stir to coat all beef in the juices. Cook 1 additional hour covered. (Do not drain.)
When ready to serve:  Slice rolls in half, place on a baking sheet and broil in oven for 2 to 4 minutes until bread is lightly golden brown. Scoop beef on toasted roll and top with 2 slices of provolone cheese. Place back on baking sheet and broil until cheese is melted. Top with red pepper slices and mild pepper rings.
Yield: Serves 8.

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