French Dip Sliders + Australian Bubbly PairingJun 24, 2022
Perfectly cooked, tender roast beef. Not too soft, not too hard toasted French bread. Ooey-gooey melted Swiss cheese with caramelized onions, a kick of heat from horseradish, and the game-changing, ritualistic dunk into homemade au jus. If you love a French Dip as much as I do then you know these are the components. Every piece of the anatomy of this sandwich plays a crucial role. Today, I’m dishing out the details on how I create what friends have called "the best French Dip they have ever tasted."
What I love about this recipe is you can prepare the ingredients a day or two ahead of time if needed. As long as you assemble and toast each sandwich just before serving, you’re going to score major points. A great French Dip is served hot. This is a non-negotiable fact if you ask me. To ensure each one is sizzling when it hits the plate, I prepare them in a slider format. If you make them in the large serving size you get at a restaurant, they are only hot for a little bit. I’d much rather have two hot, fresh, delicious sandwiches than one giant one that’s only half the experience. Plus, I like to serve a simple green salad with citrus or vinaigrette between batches.
I selected a 3.5-pound bottom round roast from Aspen Ridge Natural Angus Beef, which is available in Safeway and Albertsons stores around Colorado. Aspen Ridge beef products are easy to spot in the case if you keep an eye out for the Aspen leaf in their logo. This type of roast is lean on fat and tissue, making it easy to slice and ideal for cold cuts, beef jerky, and hot sandwiches like the French Dip. I prefer working with this brand because their beef is USDA Choice graded, Certified Humane®, has no antibiotics or added hormones, has verified Angus genetics, and offers an overall exceptional eating experience.
To get started, I seasoned the roast with a rub of fresh herbs, spices, garlic, and olive oil and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. I roasted it first thing in the morning the next day which allowed plenty of time for it to rest and chill before slicing it in the late afternoon when my guests arrived. If you take your time and plan ahead you can set up an easy assembly line when it’s time to toast and enjoy. You’ll spend time enjoying your company instead of in the kitchen all night.
The bread, cheese, and other toppings are just as crucial to the success of this sandwich as the beef. We’ve all had a French Dip made with too soft of bread that disintegrates into soggy mush when dunked into overly salted jus or bitten into what ought to be a delicious morsel only to find the cheese hard, cold, and unmelted. The textures and temperature are everything and missing the mark on one component can ruin the whole experience.
For the bread, I recommend using a French baguette baked the day before you serve it. Since you’re going to toast the assembled sandwiches in batches to heat everything up and melt the cheese, the baguette ends up halfway between soft and crusty. In other words, perfect for dunking and absorbing the jus without falling apart.
For the cheese, I chose the classic option: Swiss Gruyere. In my opinion, this is the best choice for its intense flavor and ability to melt perfectly into gooey goodness. For context, this is the same cheese used in French Onion Soup. It's ideal for this recipe! If Gruyere isn’t your preference, try using another Swiss or provolone cheese that melts well.
When it comes to the onions, you really must take the time to caramelize them. It’s not hard to do, but it requires a little patience, and you’ll need to keep an eye on them to prevent burning on the stovetop. I recommend taking care of the onions, jus, and horsey sauce close to the time of serving, but if needed you can prepare everything ahead of time.
The jus is a combination of the pan drippings from the roast and a handful of other simple ingredients combined in a saucepan. It’s easy to oversalt it so take it easy and taste it often. The horsey (horseradish) sauce is a simple combo of spicy horseradish and mayonnaise mixed in the proportions you prefer. If there’s someone in the group who doesn’t like horseradish or spicy food, reserve some plain mayo for them.
This French Dip is decadent and would pair beautifully with several bold, red wines. However, this time of year we’re dining al fresco and I decided to switch it up with a duo of dry sparkling wines from Jansz, a winery located on the Australian island of Tasmania. If you’re someone who thinks sparkling wine is only for aperitifs or oysters, I beg you to give this pairing a try!
Located directly south of Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula region, this island provides the outstanding cool-climate growing conditions necessary to yield grapes with the sky-high levels of acidity necessary to produce premium bubbly. It’s the high acid that makes the wines such a beautiful match for a dish like this. Served icy cold, the wine refreshes the palate, cutting through the rich flavors of the sandwich between bites. This is a contrasting pairing that keeps you reaching for a second taste of wine, then beef, then back again.
Jansz Winery was established in 1975 and over the years has earned the reputation of being the most highly regarded sparkling wine house in Australia. We enjoyed a bottle each of the Jansz Premium Rosé and Jansz Premium Cuvée. I’ve indulged in both these wines several times and still can’t decide which I like best. So, I recommend you grab the pair and try them side-by-side!
Perfect Roast Beef
- 3-4 pound Aspen Ridge Choice Beef Bottom Round Roast
- 2-3 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from stalk and chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix to create a paste
- Using your hands, spread the mixture all over the roast and place in a dish
- Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Place the meat on the rack of your roasting pan, fat cap side up, and roast for about 20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reads 145°F on your meat thermometer
- Once finished, remove it from the oven and let it cool at room temperature
- Move the roast to a platter and into the fridge then scrape the pan drippings into a bowl and reserve
- When the meat has chilled thoroughly, use a sharp knife or meat slicer to cut the roast into very thin slices
- See sandwich assembly details below
Mouthwatering Beef Jus
- Pan drippings from Aspen Ridge Choice Beef Bottom Round Roast
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cups of beef bone broth - I recommend using Zoup! Beef Bone Broth
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- Shallot, cut into medium chunks
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, optional
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over low to medium heat for 20-30 minutes, tasting occasionally and seasoning as desired
- Consider adding a touch of apple cider vinegar in lieu of additional salt to enhance the flavors
- Remove from heat and allow to cool
- Pour through a strainer to remove solid ingredients then return to the saucepan to reheat just before serving
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium white onions, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat being cautious not to burn it
- Add the onions and garlic
- Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and tender
- Remove the cover and add the brown sugar, salt, and pepper
- Increase the heat to medium and cook another 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions reach desired level of caramelization then stir in the balsamic vinegar
- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve
Spicy “Horsey” Sauce
- Spicy horseradish
- Combine the horseradish and mayo in a small bowl, tasting occasionally to achieve your desired level of spice, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Assemble Your French Dip Sliders!
- Aspen Ridge Choice Beef Bottom Round Roast, cooked and thinly sliced
- French Baguette, cut into slider-sized sections then sliced through the center
- Caramelized onions
- Gruyere or another Swiss or provolone cheese, sliced thin
- Spicy “Horsey Sauce” or mayonnaise
- Homemade Beef Jus, reheated on the stove
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Place a layer of tin foil on a baking sheet and lay your baguettes out soft side up
- Spread Horsey Sauce over the inside face of each piece of bread
- On one side of each slider, layer Aspen Ridge roast beef slices, then caramelized onions, and cheese
- Place the other side of the bread on top of the slider and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until the sandwich has reached your desired level of toast and the cheese has melted
- Place the slider on a plate with an individual ramekin of piping hot jus and serve immediately
For the absolute best experience, be sure to serve your bubbly ice cold and keep the bottles in a chiller while you enjoy them. Consider making multiple batches of sliders so they are hot and fresh each time!
As always, let me know what you think! Did you try this recipe and wine pairing? Let us know if the comments below!
Cheers, Montana Rae & The Wine Ship Cru
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