The French dip, supposedly created in Los Angeles in the early 1900s, is a classic sandwich composed of nothing more than a French roll stuffed with roast beef that’s been dipped in roast beef juices or jus, with more jus served on the side for extra dipping. A good jus is the foundation of a tasty French dip sandwich, and the CHOW test kitchen has developed an easy, flavorful one by simmering browned beef bones with red wine and beef broth. You’ll have to spend about 30 minutes on it, browning the bones, deglazing your pan with the wine, and simmering it all with the broth until the flavor is deeply beefy. To put together your sandwich, broil buttered French rolls, dip sliced roast beef into the homemade jus, and serve with plenty of extra jus. Deli counter roast beef works just fine here, but for the ultimate French dip sandwich, thinly slice some Slow-Roasted Prime Rib and add some horseradish mayo.
What to buy: For the meaty beef bones needed to make the jus, ask your butcher for the bones used to make beef stock, as these probably won’t be displayed in the case. You’ll need to ask for marrow or knuckle bones cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces.
- 1Season the beef bones with salt and pepper.
- 2Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the bones and sear until golden brown on all sides, adjusting the heat as needed so the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn, about 6 to 8 minutes total. Remove the bones to a large plate and repeat with the remaining bones.
- 3Add the wine, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and simmer until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- 4Return the bones and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot. Add the broth, measured salt, and measured pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tightfitting lid, and simmer until the jus has a deep beefy flavor, about 15 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to medium, and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes.
- 5Remove and discard the bones. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan. Pour the jus through the strainer and discard the contents of the strainer. Let the jus sit until the fat rises to the surface, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, skim off and discard the fat. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed; keep warm over low heat.
For the sandwiches:
- 1Heat the oven to broil and arrange a rack in the middle.
- 2Spread the butter on the cut sides of the rolls and season with salt and pepper. Place the rolls butter-side up on a baking sheet and broil until golden brown and toasted, about 2 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack.
- 3Divide the roast beef into 6 portions. Using tongs, dip 1 portion into the warm jus and place on a roll. Repeat with the remaining portions of roast beef. Close each sandwich and slice in half.
- 4Divide the remaining jus among 6 small bowls. Serve with the sandwiches and horseradish mayonnaise, if using.