Stout French Onion Soup Beef Sandwiches
I stick my finger in a hole in the side of the plane the size and shape of a bullet hole.
The fact that it’s on the inside wall of the plane, from my seat somewhere in the middle of the tiny South American airliner, that causes the worry. Although it isn’t even close to what worries me the most right now. I’ve been stuck on the airplane for more than an hour, locked inside the metal tube on the tarmac, and the air conditioner isn’t working. It’s over 110F degrees and I’m starting to panic. The baby in the front of the plane has stopped crying, which also worries me. The sun starts to peak out from behind the clouds that have served as a barrier between the metal trap and the sun. The temperature noticeably rises and I wonder how hot it can get before people start to pass out.
A voice comes over the intercom. Even if I did speak Spanish, I still can’t make out a word. A man behind me translates, “Lunch break?! Air traffic control took a lunch break and THAT’S why we can’t leave?!” Awesome.
Ten minutes later the plane starts to move, a few laps around the tiny airport and we are finally airborne. Twenty minutes after that the high altitude finally cools the plane to a more comfortable 80F degrees. Less than an hour later we land in a small island town off the coast of Panama.
We’ve made it. I’m both relieved for the arrival and embarrassed for all the “what if’s” that I allowed to run rampant in my brain. Three days later, after an absolutely incredible weekend, I’m back at the airport. Back at an airport so tiny the “baggage claim” is just two guys who line the bags up on the sidewalk, let a drug-sniffing dog check them out, and then hand the bags out to passengers one by one. 36 hours, three cities and five airports later, I’m back in Seattle. And it’s cold. I want comfort food. Mostly to console myself because I’m no longer here. So I made these, and they did the trick. Even if I had the urge to serve them with a side of plantain chips.
- 2 tsp (12g) kosher salt
- 1 tsp (2g) black pepper
- 1 tsp (5g) garlic powder
- ½ tsp (2g) onion powder
- ½ tsp (1g) smoked paprika
- 3.5 lbs beef chuck roast
- 1 tbs (13g) olive oil
- 12 ounces stout or porter beer
- 2 lbs (3 large) sweet white onions, sliced thinly
- 3 tbs (42g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (8 oz) porter or stout beer
- ½ cup (4 oz) beef broth
- 6 French rolls (or 12 slider rolls)
- 12 slices provolone cheese
- In a small bowl stir together the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika. Rub the roast on all sides with the spice mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 325.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, oven safe, Dutch oven or pot. Sear the meat on all sided. Add 12 ounces of beer, cover and transfer to the oven.
- Roast until fork tender, turning the meat over once or twice during cooking, about three hours. Once the meat is cooked, shred in the pot, allowing the meat to sit in the braising liquid for at least 10 minutes.
- While the meat cooks, make the onions. Add the sliced onions and butter to a pot over medium/low heat. Cook until the onions have softened and started to brown, about 20 minutes (do not cook over too-high heat or the onions will burn before they caramelize).
- Add the beer and the broth, allowing to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost gone and the onions are a dark brown, about 1 hour.
- Once the meat and onions are done, preheat the broiler.
- Lay the rolls on a baking sheet. Fill with meat, top with onions and then add a slice or two of cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese has melted, serve warm.
These are best made a day ahead of time. Make the meat and onions, store in separate containers in the fridge, and assemble and broil to serve. To save uneaten sandwiches, wrap in parchment paper, then place in a ziplock bag. Refrigerate for up to three days. Unwrap the sandwiches, place on a baking sheet and place in a 300F oven for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.