French Dips for Christopher’s Birthday (and how I make homemade stock)


Where does the time go?

Hard to believe this little one just turned 18!
Hard to believe this little one just turned 18!

Where’s my little boy, and who is this young man that insists on calling me “mom”??

Do you ever hear yourself saying that aloud?

I seem to do it more often, and certainly did so this weekend when my youngest turned 18. Eighteen? Really? I could have sworn it was only a few years ago that he was a toddler…

I asked him what he wanted for his birthday meal, and without  much hesitation, he chose French Dip Sandwiches. He’s always been quite the carnivore, but I know a lot of his love for this meat is due to the stock I use.  Homemade beef or poultry stock is pretty easy to make, too. I like to make it when it’s convenient, freeze it, and then reheat it, as needed.

stockThe secret to a lot of flavor in your slow cooked meat is to use homemade stock. I always have a supply in my freezer from either the latest turkey I roasted, or the beef bones with marrow that I picked up at the market.

*Here’s a quick lesson in stock-making:

Always ask your butcher about the bones he may have in the back. They'll often cut them to fit in your soup kettle for you.
Always ask your butcher about the bones he may have in the back. They’ll often cut them to fit in your soup kettle for you.

Beef or Bison:
Purchased bones with marrow are really easy, and worth the time. The best way to utilize them is to first season and roast them for 20 minutes in 450° oven before using for soup. However, you can also just put them into a stockpot, uncooked. You can also use the bone from a roast you’ve cooked. It’s very forgiving! Add veggies, like carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. When ready to season, I generally use salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and occasionally ground rosemary.

Turkey or Chicken:
After you’ve roasted the bird, pour every bit of the drippings through a strainer, and into a large stockpot. Throw in any bones that may still have meat on them, and add some veggies, like carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Pour enough drinking water into pot to cover by 2″.  Add salt, pepper, sage, and  curry (I prefer this one from Simply Organic).

Once it’s seasoned:
Cook till the juice comes to a boil, and turn down the heat. Cook at least 4-6 hours. If you have 12 hours, let it go that long!
Let cool
, and refrigerate. Once it’s cold, ladle it into quart or half-quart jars, leaving 1″ headspace. Label, and freeze.

I’ve used beef, bison, and even turkey stock for my French Dips. So long as you season the meat enough, you’ll be happy with the results.

When you need good homemade stock, you’re set! Take the lid off, and microwave it on the lowest power, checking every couple of minutes.

Christopher’s Favorite French Dips

The Meat

Season meat really well, and then make a paste of it with the whole grain mustard.
Season meat really well, and then make a paste of it with the whole grain mustard.

5½ lb. Top Round (Beef or Bison) 
12 white bulbs from green onions
2½ c. homemade stock 
black pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
dried thyme leaves
smoked salt (see photo)
whole grain mustard
1½ c. drinking water

I prefer using two cuts, each weighing around 2½-3 pounds. Lay the first piece in the crockpot, pour half of the stock over the top, shake dry seasonings liberally over the top to taste, and spread with mustard. Repeat with second piece, placing it directly on top of the first piece.  Place green onion bulbs around the meat. Add drinking water to the side (don’t pour it over the meat). Put lid on crockpot, and cook on high for 7-8 hours.

The meat will be so tender, it will take only minutes to shred it all.
The meat will be so tender, it will take only minutes to shred it all.

Once the meat is done, lift out about a quarter of it from the broth, and place it in a wide, shallow bowl. Using two large serving forks, shred the meat. Repeat with the remaining meat, shredding a quarter at a time. This process should only take about five minutes, since the meat will be very tender. Make sure to set the fat aside. Mine ended up in my dog’s dish, since she was also celebrating her birthday. (She turned 15!) Keep the liquid in the crockpot until you’re ready to serve the sandwiches. At this time, ladle out about ½ cup of the warm broth into individual small bowls.

The Rest

It looks simple, but has a deep, rich flavor. And wait till you taste that broth when you dip the sandwich!
It looks simple, but has a deep, rich flavor. And wait till you taste that broth when you dip the sandwich!

French rolls
Provolone cheese
tomatoes, sliced
avocado, sliced
horseradish sauce, opt.
mustard, opt.
broth: in small bowls

Let everyone assemble their sandwiches the way they like. Here’s mine, with two huge slices of heirloom tomatoes, some Provolone, and a little avocado. Notice the delicious broth… oh my it’s good!

What a fun time we had!
Birthday Lunch

And now for the humor…
My boy has a great (albeit a bit twisted) sense of humor, so I thought I’d share something he’d like (plus it’s one of my favorites).

far side: CarHappy 18th Birthday, Chris!
Love, Mom

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7 thoughts on “French Dips for Christopher’s Birthday (and how I make homemade stock)

    1. Glad you think so! Thanks! 🙂 There is one particular recipe I make with the leftover meat from these sandwiches… you’d love that one too! (maybe I ought to write about that too in the future?) hmmm!

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  1. I make my stocks in my crock pot, and I save my vegetable scraps like onion and garlic skins, the ends of carrots, asparagus, ginger, celery, sweet potato skins, etc. and even egg shells. I throw them all in the crock, add 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, some fresh and dried herbs, add water to cover, then leave on “low” for 24-36 hours. I take it out when the bones crumble. Throw it in tupperware and freeze for future use. I also drink it when I feel a cold coming on, it is ridiculously good for you.

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  2. I wish I was this adventurous…..but, for now…I’ll have it on my “to-do” list & when I do, I will look into your ideas on making this stock & keeping it on hand & I know my family would love the sandwiches as well. Love that you share your recipes…..

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