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For An Upgraded French Dip Sandwich, Crack Open A Beer

Close-up French dip sandwich
Close-up French dip sandwich - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

With over a century to solidify its reputation as one of America's great sandwiches, the French dip is as simple as it is decadent. Two different Los Angeles restaurants claim to have created the French dip sandwich, but both use a similar recipe and ingredients: Sliced beef, a crusty French roll, butter, and rich beef dripping sauce, usually served 'au jus'. The result is a deeply satisfying, succulent, meaty sandwich.

The popularity of the French dip sandwich has led people to develop new (some argue, improved) versions with extra ingredients. Common additions include cheese, onions, and sometimes mushrooms. However, the beef jus dip makes this sandwich special, and one extra ingredient can take your jus to the next level: Beer.

French dip sandwiches can be made simply and quickly by frying your beef in a pan and making your jus in a pot, but you can also prepare a slow cooker French dip sandwich for a simplified (albeit lengthier) approach. Whichever method you choose, beer improves the flavor of your beef and jus and the beef's texture. The trick here isn't to drink the beer to get your creative juices flowing while making your sandwich (although you're welcome to do that if you'd like). Instead, adding beer into the pot with the other ingredients for your jus (or into your slow cooker with the beef and jus ingredients) will create a subtly rich, earthy dipping sauce packed with flavor.

Read more: French Cooking Tricks You Need In Your Life

Tips For Upgrading Your French Dip Sandwich With Beer

Four different beers in glasses
Four different beers in glasses - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Not all beers are equal. Opinions vary, but it's generally accepted that dark beers are best suited for French dip sandwiches. A stout, such as a Guinness, or most dark ales, porters, or dark lagers will add savory umami notes and deep richness to both your meat and the dipping sauce itself. Light beers such as pale ales and standard lagers create a thinner, less intense beef jus dip. If this is all you have, add some extra umami-rich ingredients to your jus such as soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, along with your light beer. This should result in a jus with the same heartiness and depth as one made with dark beer.

Of course, beer doesn't just give your jus flavor: Its enzymes and carbonation are effective meat tenderizers, so marinating your beef in beer (or adding beer to your slow cooker if you're using that method), will yield more tender, succulent beef for your French dip sandwich.

One of the joys of using a slow cooker is that exact measurements become a little less important. Generally, one standard 12-ounce bottle of beer is enough to use with a 4-pound cut of beef, along with other ingredients for the jus, such as beef stock and concentrated onion soup. Simply pour all the liquids over your beef in the slow cooker, close it up, and cook low-n-slow until your beef is juicy and tender, and soaked in beefy jus.

More Ideas For Upgrading Your French Dip Sandwich

french dip baguette fries
french dip baguette fries - Charles Brutlag/Shutterstock

In addition to beer, there are plenty of other ways to make French dip sandwiches extra special. French dip sandwiches are defined by the beef and dip, but cheese adds extra indulgence. What you're looking for is a melting cheese to add oozy texture without too much of a strong flavor, as this might distract from the caramel-umami notes that your beer adds to your jus. Swiss cheese is a popular choice, but you can use any variety that melts well, such as American cheese, mozzarella, provolone, or even muenster.

In a French dip sandwich, the dip's the star of the show. You can improve your beer-infused beef jus even further by adding some additional ingredients which complement the rich, malty flavor the beer contributes. Homemade beef stock will balance any sweet notes from the beer's natural sugars with saltiness and added beefy flavor. Herbs and spices like onion powder, garlic powder and thyme add complexity and aromatic elements which are different but welcome alongside the malty, brewed flavors of the jus. Also, balsamic vinegar or Dijon mustard can add acidity -- you can spoon some mustard to your jus, or rub your beef with it before cooking to infuse the meat with flavor. The acidity will also work with the beer to tenderize your beef even further, making it easier to slice thin and resulting in a French dip sandwich that's filled with soft, juicy beef.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.