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Mar 23, 2012 03:13 PM

HELP with better au jus and crock pot beef sandwich recipes

I love a french dips and I have a fancy-schmancy chuck roast from a local farm and I want to make the best french dip/shredded beef sandwiches possible. My problem is that I can never get the true unctuous beefy flavor and texture in my au jus that I tend to get in good restaurants. My jus always tastes a little like watered down bullion. Any suggestions or methods I should use?

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  1. Well, since I'm not sure of your methods I'm going to be winging it a bit here, but I'm not sure that a crock pot is ever going to yield the kind of beef drippings that you need for au jus. A crockpot, by its very nature, is going to trap every bit of moisture in there with your meat, and for a good jus you need to concentrate some of those flavors. I think you would get better results with the dry heat of an can roast beef very, very slowly (I've gone as low as 225 degrees roasting beef, and usually ended up with a pretty good amount of beef drippings in the sure to season and sear the outside first to get a nice caramelized taste. Okay...I just googled 'crock pot au jus' (I was overcome by curiosity) and it seems that most of them are adding a 'packet of au jus mix' or 'a packet of onion soup mix', which is probably how they are mimicking that roasted meat flavor...if you need to use the crockpot (and I understand that sometimes it really is just so much more convenient to leave dinner to cook itself in the crockpot) , I recommend a google search for ideas on how to kind of 'cheat' a little extra flavor. I would sear my hunk 'o meat just the same...I find that it helps a lot with anything I am making in a crockpot to do so.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tonifi

      I would consider making au jus on the side or boiling down my crock pot drippings/jus to concentrate it if that would work. I guess my question is, do I need bones? Would roasted bones added to the crock pot make any difference followed by reducing the sauce? Also, any recommendations on the perfect french dip, especially one that is easy to make would be appreciated!

    2. I make jus with pan drippings, homemade beef stock, soy sauce, and a touch of garlic....along with salt and pepper, of course. If you already have the roast and don't have any homemade beef stock, this is a problem - maybe someone else know what brand is best for store-bought stock?

      1 Reply
      1. re: sandylc

        D'Artagnan makes a demiglace that enriches any stock immeasurably, but any low-salt preferably organic canned broth can be reduced. You won't get the same richness with the last, but you can come darn close w/ the first.

      2. Pioneer Woman's Drip Beef (lovely name, huh?) is my search-no-more, this is better than any I've had in a restaurant. Actually, she has an Italian Drip Beef also. I mostly followed the Drip but included the peperoncinis from the Italian Drip.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MrsJonesey

          +1 for both Pioneerwoman shredded beef recipes.

          Here's my well received variation of her Italian Drip that I first did (in the crockpot) for Super Bowl XLIV and thus call it Fleur-de-lis Shredded Beef
          (I don't know what I would have called it if the Colts had won).

          WARNING: This will surely offend and/or disgust many hounds that refuse to use canned soup, but I submit this for anyone else.

          Basically just a combination of two (slightly modified) recipes.

          Ingredients for basic Italian Drip Roast Beef (from and to be put in a 5 qt crockpot under at least one whole (2.5 - 4 pound) Beef Chuck Roast,

          * 1 can Beef Consommé
          * 3 Tablespoons (heaping) Italian Seasoning - (I used 1 envelop of Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix instead - used half as a "rub" and half in the liquids)
          * 1 teaspoon Salt - (I omitted because I figured Campbell's and Good Seasons had enough salt already)
          * About half a bottle of Yuengling's Black and Tan beer (PW used ¼ cup water)
          * ½ jar (16 Oz) Pepperoncini Peppers, with juice

          Ingredients for "Hardee's Mushroom 'n Swiss Copycat Mushroom Sauce" Recipe:

          (I use it to pour over the seasoned meat prior to cooking, but I suppose it could be used just as a topping prior to eating - either way, simmer in a saucepan first)
          * 1 can Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup
          * 1 can sliced mushrooms (I used freshly sliced and sauteed in butter with a touch of dry Marsala added)
          * 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

          Total cooking time is about 10 - 12 hrs.
          Probably best to do a day ahead for about 6-8 hours on low until the meat starts to 'fall apart', then chill overnight to solidify fat for easy removal prior to the next days continued cooking, but I've been known to not bother and just enjoy the "fatty juice" after cooking for one long session and removing any gristle from the meat while shredding.

          Type of roll is up to you, but I suggest a nice Italian torpedo with either swiss or american cheese.

        2. I am trying to make a great roast beef sandwich similar to you. I am having a hard time getting the meat to the correct tenderness, but my au jus is good.

          I used eye round and seared it in a hot pan with oil. It was beautiful and the house was full of smoke. I removed the roast. I added mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, garlic and tomato paste. And then some wine and then some beef broth. And I reduced it and strained it. I think this yields about 1/4 cup. I was disappointed to say the least. I put this in the fridge and let the fat rise to the top so I could remove it.

          I cooked the roast using the CI method and I did everything they said. I let it cool and then put in the fridge overnight for sandwiches the next day.

          I sliced it thin. Yes, I bought a slicer. I reheated the previously cooked eye round sliced and dunked into hot au jus. The meat turned into leather instantly. The au jus temperature is important. I think you want it around 130 - 140 degF. You don't want it hotter then the temperature that you want the final meat doneness level.

          So au jus temperature is really important. Always remember that.

          As best I have read, any liquid that is used to reheat and flavor meat is a two way street. The au jus flavors the meat and the meat flavors the au jus. Osmosis at it's finest.

          The first roast was so bad that I cooked a flank steak on the charcoal grill with some mesquit and let it cool to be sliced thin the next day. I cooked it just the way CI said to cook a flank steak.

          I sliced it thin and dunked it in not so hot au jus. It was good. It wasn't great, it was good. I was working with really quick dunk times at that point. Maybe 10 seconds or maybe 15 seconds. Really short dunk times.

          Then I sliced more of the eye round and dunked for various times at various temperatures and the lower temp longer time was better. I am still working on it.

          But your question was about delicious au jus. The answer is that it gets better the more you dunk stuff into it. After a few weeks, my au jus is awesome. It wasn't awesome the first day. I needed to add beef broth and reduce. When it starts to get cloudy from all the particles in it, strain it through a paper towel and it will be perfectly clear again. When the liquid starts to get low, add some more beef broth.

          I did another eye round in the crock pot with all the onions and carrots, etc added to the crock pot and cooked on low for 10 hours. The meat is not the best in the world, but the au jus created by the crock pot was pretty good. Cook then strain and add some beef broth and reduced. Just keep concentration the flavors.

          If you use wine to help deglaze the pan, add a little. The best I have read, don't add it to a crock pot recipe or use even less. I don't like it when too much wine is added. I don't want my au jus tasting like wine.

          In summary, sear the meat for flavor. Use the pan dripping to start the au jus. The searing of the meat adds flavor that is picked up by the au jus. The au jus gets better over time. It you have crazy pieces of beef left over, throw them in the au jus. It only gets better.

          Find a good bun. People's taste's vary on this. If you are going to dunk it, it should be crispy. Just wet the bun and toast it off in a toaster oven.

          I hope this helps. The au jus keeps expanding and getting better.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ArtH

            I agree with you that the jus can't be too warm or it ruins the rare cooked meat.

          2. Interesting, I've never eaten or made a French dip sandwich with a chuck roast ever. Nor have I ever heard of a shredded meat beef dip/French dip. I generally use tri tip and slice it thin. Once I made it with an eye of round when I couldn't get tri tip. That came out good too.

            There is no way I'd try and make this sandwich in the crock pot. It's not a braise dish IMO. It's a roast, that should be cooked rare and thinly sliced. Maybe it's a regional thing?

            6 Replies
              1. re: rasputina

                Re: shredded beef sandiches...
                I don't know which region the OP is in but in the PNW there are a couple sandwiches that are made from long braised meats that are very delicious.

                Pot Roast sub from a local sandwich shop and Porchetta sandwich from Salumi (Seattle). I also hear that Salumi makes an oxtail sandwich which is very good too.

                1. re: rasputina

                  I think you are right and we are talking about two different types of sandwiches here. Classic French dip is the sliced roast beef. I think the OP is looking for a shredded, crock-pot style sandwich like the Pioneer Woman recipe Mrs. Jonesy linked. Both types are delicious, though!

                  1. re: rasputina

                    Yeah, absolutely. Rare, sliced thin. Not braised, well done, shredded. But now that you mention it, that sounds good too. But a different animal altogether.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        I'm thinking Brisket, but not BBQ style. Crockpot style, with gravy and onions maybe.