Haunted Dreams (and French Dip Sandwiches)

When my sister graduated from high school my parents decided to honor the occasion with a family vacation, and she got to pick the destination.  There were the usual Morse family stipulations held by my father who thinks 75 degrees is the surface temperature of the sun, and therefore any earthly locale with the potential of such ungodly heat is an unacceptable vacation spot. (Love you, Dad.) We ended up in Virginia.

Two years later when I graduated, I got the same treatment. Now, to preface my choice (remembering Hawaii was not an option), you should know The Office is one of my favorite TV shows. As in I’ve seen the series in its entirety… um… cough… probably dozens of times. I use my time wisely.

So the destination 45772_10150261376070010_1570813_nclearly had to be Scranton, PA. (They call it Scranton! What? The Electric City!) We flew into Philadelphia and explored the city before driving to Scranton. If you haven’t been to Philly, you need to go. It’s fun, the food is fantastic, and there are a lot of really cool things, both historic and otherwise, to see.

One of those things is the Reading Terminal Market, an indoor food market with lots of vendors and restaurants. We wandered in there for hours, and I could have stayed longer. If you make it out there, you need to stop at DiNic’s and get the roast pork sandwich.

Let me bunny trail for a second. Bryce and I spend a lot of time talking about traveling. We’re road trip masters and we’ve been fortunate enough to go lots of places together. So the following happens with frequency: one of us will bring up some place we’ve been, the conversation quickly veers to something we ate there, and Bryce will make this grunt-mumble-moan sound, very similar to a horse, and go, “Oh, that haunts my dreams.”

This is a saying he reserves exclusively for food. He never says it about anything else, which I guess is good. If you’re going to have something haunt your dreams, delicious food is preferable to, I don’t know, clowns or mimes or something.

Anyway, the DiNic’s roast pork sandwich haunts my dreams (and serves as partial inspiration for today’s recipe). It. Was. So. Good. I remember it distinctly, just as I remember the crab cakes we ate at a place in Virginia, the coconut cream pie I had in Yoder, Kansas, and the prime rib I ate last week.

Bryce’s family was in town because his dad had a work conference, and one night we went out to a very fancy dinner for which we were, let’s say, socially unprepared. Bryce and I don’t eat out a lot, and when we do we are accustomed to places of a different (read: casual) caliber. Fortunately there were not 12 plates and 8 forks and an assortment of glasses for different beverages arranged so closely that you’re never really sure which ones are yours. I don’t think we could have handled that.

This was a No cellular telephones in the dining room, please, kind of place. Hello, how am I supposed to look up brasserie style steak without my phone? Am I just expected to know what that is? And it’s not like I could ask, because I would have assuredly had a brain mix-up and pronounced it “brassiere” to the waiter. And I have a feeling that even when using the fancy words, one is not supposed to discuss undergarments in a place where the waiter resets the silverware between appetizers and the main course even though you haven’t touched your fork.

By the way, I looked it up after the fact, and brasserie is French for brewery. Also, according to the Google Translate pronunciation lady, that word sounds way too similar to brassiere. That restaurant was just a mine field.

I ordered prime rib because I figured it would be a long time before I was ever presented with the opportunity again. All I can say is… I get it. I get it now.

It haunts my dreams.

And while I was eating the prime rib, Bryce was sitting next to me eating the prime rib French dip sandwich and probably thinking about how it would haunt his dreams later.

These are, sadly (but justifiably), not made with prime rib. Most French dip recipes use beef roast, but our grocery store had sirloin tip steaks in the manager-special-no-one-bought-these-so-now-they’re-super-discounted section, which is where we buy most of our meat, so I’m using those. If you have a beef roast, I’d recommend using it — just adjust the cooking time.

I used rapini, more commonly known as broccoli rabe, and an Italian baguette.

“Mom, there’s some random bread–oh, there you are. We eat this, yes? Or no? No?”

These sandwiches are a bit of a cross between a classic French dip and DiNic’s roast pork sandwich. DiNic’s uses roast pork, broccoli rabe, provolone, and jus-like gravy, where a French dip has beef and provolone au jus. My French dip has sliced beef, broccoli rabe, and provolone.

French Dip Sandwiches

2 lbs sirloin tip steak
1/2 cup onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups beef broth

Broccoli Rabe / Rapini
1 bunch broccoli rabe (aka rapini)
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
red pepper flakes (optional)

To Assemble
baguette (Italian or French)
sliced provolone cheese

Combine beef, onion, garlic, soy sauce, broth, and spices in a slow cooker. Cook on low, 2-5 hours (will depend on thickness of
steak). When steaks are cooked, remove from crock pot and slice. Strain cooking liquid to remove onion, garlic, bay leaf, and spices. Keep sliced meat warm. (I put the sliced meat back in the crock pot with some of the cooking liquid to keep it warm and tender.)

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Rinse broccoli rabe. Trim bottom stems. Chop into 2-3 inch segments. Blanch broccoli rabe in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, until stalks are tender. Meanwhile, saute the garlic until softened. Drain broccoli rabe and transfer to pan. Saute with garlic and red pepper flakes for 2-3 minutes.

Cut baguette into sandwich-length pieces, then halve horizontally. Pile on sliced beef, provolone cheese, and broccoli rabe. Spoon strained cooking juices into bowls and serve alongside.


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