What Is A French Dip And How Do You Make It?

Simply put, the French dip is a meaty sandwich doused in savory broth (via LA Eater). The meat is buttery soft and the bread is equal parts chewy and moist thanks to a plunge in roasting pan juices. But perhaps what's more interesting is that the sandwich wasn't planned but born out of a blunder.

The story goes like this: In 1918, Philippe Mathieu, the founder of LA's Philippe restaurant, was assembling one of the joint's revered sandwiches for a patron. Mathieu reached for a sliced French roll and unintentionally dropped the bread into a roasting pan laced with hot beef juices. The customer, a policeman, seemed fine with the mistake and took it anyway. Seems the creation was so sublime the officer returned the next day — with friends — and ordered another "dipped sandwich" (via Britannica). As the Philippe website explains, it's not clear if the name "French Dipped Sandwich" came from Mathieu's French heritage, the French roll used for the sandwich, or because the officer's name was French.

These days, the French dipped sandwich is offered at a variety of restaurants, and it typically consists of thin slices of hot beef, piled onto a long white roll and served "au jus", aka "with broth" or "with juice," referring to the tasty roasting pan juices (via What's Cooking America).

How to make the best French dip at home

The French dip is remarkably easy to make at home, and if you take a few tips from the pros, you can enjoy the classic sandwich with ease. Spend with Pennies asserts that most French dip sandwiches are made with chuck or rump roast and long, slow cooking in the slow cooker is the ideal method for getting juicy, melt-in-your-mouth beef. In their version, the beef is seasoned with onion soup mix, garlic, rosemary, and light beer.

Carlsbad Cravings also prefers the slow cooker, but only after the beef has been thoroughly seared in a cast iron skillet. In a unique twist, the beef is then braised with beef consommé, soy sauce, Coke (yes, the soda), garlic, onion, and herbs.

If you'd rather use your Instant Pot, Café Delites shares a mouth-watering recipe featuring a full-bodied sandwich and savory jus, and it all comes together in about an hour. Instead of using the slow cooker, Delish prefers roasting beef ribeye after it's been festooned with garlic, onions, and thyme. Their jus is made with the roasting pan juices, more garlic and herbs, and a hint of Worcestershire sauce.

The Pioneer Woman also prefers a hot oven and her French dip recipe features tender ribeye or sirloin, seasoned with French onion soup mix, onions, garlic, herbs, and sherry wine. It doesn't matter which recipe or technique you choose — one additional item is required for them all: napkins.