I think the very first time O ever came to my house, I met him at the door, literally wearing an apron, with a bloody mary in hand, shrimp and grits nearly ready, and a box of my perfect red velvet cupcakes on the counter (Reminiscent of my dream? Perhaps..). I’d eagerly agreed to make dinner before our night out to see the Pixies, knowing full well I could put the charm on in full force. These days, if I try and spice it up by wearing heels at dinner, he asks me, “Why are you wearing heels to cook? You’re going to hurt yourself”.
However, back in the beginning, I cooked blissfully and often, finally having a use for my cooking compulsion. One night we’d have a salade mixte topped with foie gras, seared filet, and a side of truffle mac; the next I’d whip up my famous fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and biscuits. At this point, he’d never before had anyone cook for him, and he was irritatingly grateful. As time wore on, however, he got spoiled. Everything suddenly had a scale of relative quality, and my chicken tikka masala might be, “Yeah, it’s good, but obviously not as good as the butter chicken last week.” He so, so quickly became so, so spoiled.
So when I started grad school at night, I had to figure out a way to feed us that didn’t include picking up Mexican pizzas on the way home. However, O has only chopped an onion probably three times in his life–accompanied by a YouTube tutorial each time–so my satellite involvement was crucial. So what did I do? I bit the bullet, asked my mother if she had an extra crockpot, and pinned a bunch of “boyfriend gourmet” recipes that involved only one pot or a slow cooker. Luckily, or unluckily, for us and our foodie snobbery, she did.
This was the second of our crockpot meals, which required O only to defrost a homemade half-wheat baguette, slice and toast it. Oh, and make sure the crockpot didn’t runneth over onto the floor and spoil our puppy as bad as he. The recipe could not have been easier, but it should not be called a French dip. What makes something a French dip? Let’s consult the gods:
A French dip sandwich, also known as a beef dip, is a hot sandwich consisting of thinly sliced roast beef (or, sometimes, other meats) on a “French roll” or baguette. It is usually served au jus (“with juice”), that is, with beef juice from the cooking process. Beef broth or beef consommé is sometimes substituted (Wikipedia).
OK, I guess technically this sandwich qualifies. But it tasted unlike any other French dip sandwich I’d ever had before. If it were my recipe, I’d call it “Stew Meat Dip with Stew Meat Juice”. You will love this sandwich.
…if you like stew meat. Unfortunately, we do not. Unfortunately, I’ll never be able to use Brasato al Barolo to win back some favor after a particularly foot-in-mouthish comment. This is unfortunate, you see, because Brasato al Barolo always helps you win back some favor after a particularly foot-in-mouthish comment.. unless the offended is O. I’m learning that a crockpot is going to pretty much do this exact thing to all red meat, so I guess we’ll stick to chicken, and make our weeknight French dips with good ol’ roast beef steeped in some beef consommé. Did that keep us from scarfing down every bit?
However, if you do like stew meat, you will adore this sandwich! This is a genuine case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. It’s beyond easy, very hearty, and you get to eat melty cheese! If you’re feeling raucous, use my favorite soft baguette recipe and take the whole thing to the next level. It’s deceivingly easy, and you can make loads, cover them in aluminum foil, and freeze until you’re ready to use.8