I don’t utilize my slow cooker nearly as often as I should. Which is ridiculous since every time I do I realize what a helpful kitchen appliance it is.
The truth is, I don’t have a lot of slow cooker recipes so I often forget to use a slow cooker on a busy day. And slow cooker recipes can be difficult to photograph in an attractive manner.
When my sister moved to Colorado she told me about an easy slow cooker French Dip recipe that a friend in Austin had prepared and wanted me to give it a try.
The shredded beef for the French Dip Sandwich is pretty easy and low maintenance to prepare, but here are a few of my favorite Slow Cooker tips to help you get the best results.
Tips for Cooking in a Slow Cooker
1. Always sear all sides of the meats first to brown the meat and seal in the moisture.
Bonus: if your slow cooker sleeve is stove-top safe you can sear the meat in it which eliminates an extra dirty dish and leaves all those tasty browned bits from searing in the pan for deep flavor.
2. Saute aromatic ingredients like onion, carrot, celery, and garlic before adding to the slow cooker to avoid a raw taste and add deeper, more fragrant flavor.
Bonus again if your slow cooker sleeve is stove-top safe. I have one that is and I highly recommend looking for a model like that.
3. Cook low and slow for a longer period of time rather than quick and hot for fall apart in your mouth moist, tender meats.
4. Add dried herbs at the beginning of cooking and fresh herbs towards the end. The flavor of herbs and spices can diminish with the long cooking times, particularly with delicate fresh herbs.
It is best to taste just before serving and add a boost of flavor with additional spices and/or fresh herbs if needed.
Of course being me, I couldn’t resist tweaking things up a bit with this French Dip recipe.
Instead of serving the shredded french dip beef stuffed inside a sliced loaf of french bread, we made the french dip sandwiches into a panini recipe.
The insides of sourdough bread are slathered in herb and garlic Boursin cheese and gooey melted provolone seals the whole thing together.
We found that the crispy toasted bread is a great medium (even better than traditional rolls) for soaking up all that delicious au jus served on the side.
If you prefer a traditional French Dip sandwich, you can still use this meat recipe and serve it in your preferred bread.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
- Crock Pot Mexican Chicken | GoodLife Eats
- Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Tacos | GoodLife Eats
- Crock Pot Steel Cut Oats | Chocolate and Carrots
- Pulled Pork | Texanerin Baking
Do you use your slow cooker or do you often forget about it like me? What is your favorite recipe?
Slow Cooker French Dip Panini Recipe
Yield: serves 6 - 8
3 pounds beef chuck roast, trim extra fat off
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 3/4 cups beef broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Sourdough bread, sliced thin (I like La Brea loaves or Udi's Sliced Sourdough)
Garlic and Herb Boursin Cheese
Sliced Provolone Cheese
To Prepare the Slow Cooker French Dip Meat:
Add the oil in your slow cooker's insert if it is stove top safe, if it is not stove top safe, then heat the oil in a cast iron pan or dutch oven. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Season the beef chuck roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear all sides of the meat in the oil over medium-high heat until each side has a nice brown crust. Remove and set aside on a plate.
In the same pan, saute the onion for 3 - 5 minutes, until golden, adding more oil if necessary. Then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the meat and any juices that have collected on the plate along with the onion and garlic to the slow cooker. Add the bay leaves, Worcestershire, red wine, tomato paste, beef broth.
If you're using fresh thyme, add the sprigs during the last 30 - 60 minutes of cooking. If you're using dried thyme, add it at the same time as the beef broth.
Cover with a lid and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the meat easily shreds using a fork. Remove the meat and shred it or cut in into thin slices, however you prefer. Set aside in a bowl. Ladle off excess fat from the top of the au jus and discard the fat. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
Keep the remaining au jus in the slow cooker to keep warm while you prepare the sandwiches. If desired, you can thicken the jus with flour or cornstarch. After adding flour or cornstarch and whisking to combine, bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Then lower heat to keep warm.
To prepare the panini:
Spread the inside of two pieces of bread with Boursin cheese. Top one of the insides with a slice of provolone and then shredded beef, then top the beef with another slice of provolone. Put the remaining slice on top and grill using a panini press or a cast iron skillet.
If grilling the panini using a cast iron skillet, press down on the top of the sandwich using a brick covered in foil or a heavy sauce pan. After the first side has toasted and become a golden brown, flip and repeat.
Serve with a side bowl of the au jus for dipping.
Adapted from Slow Cooker French Dip, via my sister's friend Fran.