I’m always up for a good French Dip—but this one is not just any French Dip. It is the best French Dip sandwich of all time. I would be happy with either a juicy, medium rare ribeye, or deeply caramelized onions, or a dark, rich au jus—but here they’re ALL invited to the party, and together they make a powerhouse of a sandwich. Just be careful making this recipe: once you’ve tasted this French Dip, every other iteration you try will disappoint you. For that reason, it’s a great recipe to make for company—they will laud your French Dip to their friends for the REST OF THEIR LIVES.
Although the onions take a while to make properly, they can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 4 days (or frozen up to 3 months). Leftover onions are great on burgers, pizzas, in omelets or quiches—they make everything better. The rest of the meal comes together in under a half hour. This recipe makes two quite large sandwiches (or four smaller sandwiches), but you can always double it to make more. And as involved as it appears, the cooking proficiency level necessary is very low—you’re mostly just stirring and searing.
You will need:
For the caramelized onions:
2 yellow onions
2 T butter
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1 t sugar
1 T sherry
For the meat:
1 boneless ribeye
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
For the au jus:
1 T sherry
1 1/2 T beef bouillon concentrate
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t soy sauce
1/4 C white wine
1 1/4 C water
1/2 t garlic powder (not salt!)
1 T caramelized onions, chopped
1 bunch thyme or 1 T dried thyme
1 bay leaf
To complete the sandwiches:
2 hoagie rolls
4 slices provolone cheese
Horseradish cream sauce
If you’re making all of the components at once, you should sear the steak about 40 minutes into the onion process. Start the au jus immediately after the steak comes off of the heat.
These will take anywhere from 45-75 minutes.
Slice the onions thinly into rounds. Add the butter to a non-stick pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions, breaking the slices up into rings.
Cover the pan. After a few minutes, the onions should start to release some of their moisture. They should not be browning yet; if they are browning at all, turn the heat down. Sprinkle the salt over the rings, toss them, and re-cover.
After about ten minutes, check on the onions and stir them. They should be starting to get more translucent. Uncover, stir, and continue to check on them, stirring when you do so, every 5 minutes or so. As the onions begin to take on some color, sprinkle the sugar on the rings
When they turn the color of lightly toasted bread, add the sherry, and stir again
Continue stirring occasionally, adding a tablespoon of water or so if the onions dry out, until they are a deep, dark brown.
Set the onions aside, or put them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days (or freeze or up to 3 months).
Pat the ribeye dry with paper towels, then season it on both sides. Set a pan (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Add the butter and olive oil, and heat them until a drop of water sizzles when it hits the pan. Put the ribeye in the pan and DON’T MOVE IT for two minutes.
After two minutes, flip to the other side, again letting it be for two minutes. If the first side needs a touch more color, go ahead and flip it back to the first side for one minute more. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest. (My pan wasn’t QUITE hot enough when I put the steak in, so it didn’t sear as evenly as it could have.)
Dump the fat off of the ribeye pan, but don’t scrape it clean, leave those little bits. Add all of the au jus ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping any bits off of the bottom (for FLAVOR). Turn the heat down until the liquid is bubbling gently, and let it reduce by about half.
This will take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. If you go overboard and reduce it too much, it will be quite strong and salty—just add water until it’s the right depth of flavor for you. If you add too much water, you can always simmer it down a bit more. It’s pretty fool-proof.
When all of your components are ready, split your hoagie rolls in two and toast them if you wish. Thinly slice the ribeye against the grain, cutting off and discarding any large chunks of fat.
Pile the bottom halves of the rolls with the meat, then top with provolone. Toast or broil for 30-45 seconds, or until the cheese is melted and just begins to bubble.
Add caramelized onions on top of the melted provolone, then top with the top half of the bun, slathered in horseradish cream sauce. Slice the sandwich in half if it’s a large one.
Strain the au jus and serve it on the side.