Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Philippe the Original - Copy Cat French Dip Recipe

Have you been to L.A.?  Yes?  Oh you think so?  Let me ask you this: have you been to Philippe the Original for a french dipped sandwich?  No?  Then you haven't really been to L.A.

Philippe's is one of the oldest restaurants in Los Angeles and is one of my all time favorite restaurants anywhere.  I enjoy the food at Philippe's so much that I almost wish they would franchise, but I know eating their food at a chain would ruin the experience.

Philippe the Original was founded in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, and was moved to its present location in 1951.  Legend has it that Philippe invented the french dipped sandwich by accident at the original restaurant in 1918, but like all legends there is a competing version.  Cole's, another downtown L.A. eatery, also claims to be the birthplace of the french dip sandwich.  I've heard both stories, and I've tried both sandwiches.  In my opinion the win goes to PtO on the credibility of the story, the quality of food, and the unique atmosphere.

I keep telling myself that one of these trips I'm going to order something other than the turkey dip or the beef dip, but that never happens.  When I'm back home in Utah I find myself craving a beef dip from time to time and I occasionally order it in local restaurants, but I'm always disappointed because I've been spoiled by the best.  To remedy this I've tried to come up with a copy cat recipe that is as close as I can manage to the taste of a beef dip at Philippe's.  Which, in the interest of full disclosure, brings me to the topic of superstition.

If I were superstitious, I would believe that this recipe is cursed.  The food itself turns out tasty and reminds me a lot of the great food at PtO in Los Angeles.  However every time I work on this recipe something bad happens to me.  Every time I try to write about or post this recipe something bad happens to me.  I've put off blogging about it for a while because I've had extraordinary runs of bad luck the last three times I made the recipe.  I'm not a superstitious person but this recipe is dead set on changing that.  If I post this and get a limb amputated, get hit by a bus, or a plane crashes into my house..I may just start carrying a four leaf clover and will never make this recipe again.  But don't let that stop you from trying it yourself.

Philippe's the Original Beef French Dipped Sandwiches:

5 to 6 lbs beef roast (I like chuck because I'm cheap, but I believe PtO uses top round)
2 T olive oil

1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large (or 2 small) yellow onions, chopped
2 T minced garlic

2 cups hot water
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 cans low sodium chicken broth

2 dozen hard rolls
hot mustard
sliced cheese


Heat the oven to 250F.  Bring the roast to room temperature, if there is a string net around the meat remove it.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and brown the roast on all sides.  Remove the roast from the heat and set it on a cutting board.

Combine the next 7 ingredients in a bowl and then thoroughly coat the meat in this dry rub mix.  Place the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in a roasting pan and then place the roast on top of the vegetables.  Add the bouillon cubes to the hot water and pour that and the chicken broth into the roasting pan.  Cover the pan and place it in the oven for about 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 150F when inserted into the thickest part of the roast.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow it to rest.  Pour the vegetables and liquids into a small stock pot or a sauce pan and simmer on low for 20 minutes.  Strain out and discard the vegetables, reserve the jus.  Thinly slice the roast and add the sliced meat back into the jus.

Now you can serve the sandwiches up on sliced french bread style hard rolls, make sure to dip the cut side of the bread in the jus.   Feel free to compliment the sandwich with your choice of hot mustard and sliced cheese (I like muenster or provolone).

You can also put the pan with meat and jus in the fridge and allow it to rest at least overnight, preferably 24 hours, then gently reheat on the stove top over medium low and serve.  Letting the meat rest in the jus overnight and then reheating it intensifies the flavors and further tenderizes the meat.  This method also allows you to do the bulk of the work a day or two ahead of time and allows you to actually relax and enjoy your dinner.

I like to serve these sandwiches with my sweet and slightly tangy pineapple coleslaw, but they go great with just about any side.

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