I was sitting at the kitchen table hammering out emails during Lincoln’s morning nap the other day when I realized I’d been hunching over my computer screen for at least 30 minutes in a laser-focused state of concentration. Ouch.
I sat back, sucked in my gut, reached up, and stretched my arms as hiiiigh as they would go (which, uh, is not far. One of the most common things I heard at ChoppedCon last week was, you’re shorter than I thought!) and inhaled deeply.
That’s when it hit me. Oh my gosh, I whispered. What is that smell? That savory, luscious smell? Are the neighbors cooking? At 10am? Who in world is cooking something that smells so intoxicatingly delicious that the scent of it is wafting over the fence, through the windows, and into our kitchen at his hour? WHO!?
Oh right, ME. Bonk!
Honestly I fear for Lincoln’s teenage years because it’s scary how dense I can be. That boy is going to be able to pull so many fast ones on me!
Anyway, like I said it was indeed me cooking in my kitchen – in the crock pot, to be exact. The heat had seemingly just hit the Crock Pot Balsamic Beef Sandwiches with Blue Cheese, Crispy Shallots, and Easy Au Jus that I had started a few hours earlier and the resulting savory scent started swirling through my kitchen at the same time I reached up for that delicious stretch. My mouth began to water and it didn’t stop until the sandwiches were assembled 8 hours later.
Crock Pot Balsamic Beef Sandwiches with Blue Cheese, Crispy Shallots and Easy Au Jus are for the 8+ hour crock pot recipe seeker crowd. The ones who are looking for the convenience of a crock pot meal that slow cooks all day long but are gone either at work, school, or play for 8+ hours a day and usually have to pass on recipes that call for slow cooking meals in just 4-6 hours. It’s for them but it’s also for you, too!
No matter your situation, how you gonna say no to balsamic-braised beef piled onto buns or hoagie rolls then topped with crispy pan-fried shallots, crumbled blue cheese, sweet balsamic drizzle, and served with an easy au jus made from the crock pot cooking liquid? These sandwiches taste even better than they look!
Messy, sticky, savory, tangy, slap you in the face with flavor crock pot beef sandwiches..
The idea came from a reader who asked me to recreate her favorite menu item from a local sandwich restaurant in Dallas which combined beef tenderloin with crispy onion strings, mild blue cheese, balsamic drizzle, and rosemary au jus. I knew it’d be perfect to make in the crock pot and while I’ve never tasted the original, my version totally passes the taste test and I basically wanted to chug the au jus. ‘Nuf said.
While the balsamic beef for this recipe is slow cooked all day, we’re talking anywhere from 8-9 hours, there are a few additional steps including making the balsamic glaze, slightly reducing the au jus, and crisping up some fresh shallots (aka my all time most favorite thing ever ever ever,) but I think it’s totally worth it. Check out my tips for making a couple components ahead of time and just remember, in this journey, it’s all about the destination!
Start with a 2-3lb chuck roast. Cut away any big pieces of fat then cut the roast into big hunks. Remember when “hunk” was a suitable description for a fine male specimen? Those were the days – or rather, those were the 90s.
Toss the chuck roast hunks into a 5-6 quart crock pot then add 1 sliced sweet onion, 4 peeled garlic cloves, and a mixture of 1 cup beef broth from a 14oz can (we’ll use the rest in a bit,) 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 Tablespoons honey, and 2 Tablespoons gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce.)
Finally add 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary and lots (LOTS, ya hear?) of salt and pepper. Place a lid on top then cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until the meat shreds easily.
Tip: you can add everything to the crock pot the night before then pop it onto the base the morning you want to cook it.
Shred the meat then return to the crock pot with all the juices and cook on low for 1 more hour. This seriously makes for the most tender shredded meat. I did it with my Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches and will forever cook crock pot beef and pork this way.
Meanwhile get the reduced balsamic glaze drizzle going, which is just boiled balsamic vinegar that morphs from sour to thick and sweet. I would swim in an ocean of the stuff! Pour 1 cup balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vinegar is thickened and sweet tasting, about 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula and the vinegar stays parted for a second or two.
Pour the reduced balsamic vinegar, aka balsamic glaze, into a serving dish.
Next, strain the juices from the crock pot through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (I forgot then re-strained after this photo,) into the same pan we used for the balsamic glaze, leaving a little bit of juice in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the beef back into the crock pot with the lid on to keep warm. Add the remaining beef broth from the can to the pan then simmer until the vinegar taste has mellowed, about 20 minutes. This, you guys, is the mind melting easy au jus. I loved the depth of flavor it had. Oh, I also skimmed a bit of the fat off while the au jus was simmering.
Last step is to make the crispy shallots – perhaps my favorite part of the whole sandwich. OMG I freaking love them – like fried onion rings without the batter and way better! Ahem. That is to say, thinly slice 2 large shallots into rings then separate the rings.
Pan fry the shallots in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat in two batches until golden brown then remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining shallots. You have GOT to try these crispy shallots. Like I said, they don’t need any batter or coating to become light, crispy, and airy. With a touch of salt they are better than any french fry you’ll ever have.
Pile the balsamic beef onto gluten-free buns or hoagie rolls then top with the crispy shallots, blue cheese crumbles, balsamic drizzle, and ladle up a steamy cup of savory au jus on the side. Dinner is served!
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Gluten-free Crock Pot Balsamic Beef Sandwiches with Blue Cheese, Crispy Shallots and Easy Au Jus
Gluten-free Crock Pot Balsamic Beef Sandwiches with Blue Cheese, Crispy Shallots and Easy Au Jus is a dish that you won't believe came out of your crock pot!
- 2-3lb chuck roast, trimmed of visible fat and cut into large hunks
- 14oz can beef broth, divided
- 1-1/4 cups balsamic vinegar, divided
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 4 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 Tablespoons gluten-freee Tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce.)
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- lots of salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, cut into rings then separated
- 2oz blue cheese, crumbled
- gluten-free sandwich or hoagie buns
- cheese cloth
- Add chuck roast hunks, 1 cup beef broth, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, sweet onion, garlic cloves, soy sauce, honey, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper into a 5-6 quart crock pot. Place a lid on top then cook on low for 7-8 hours or until meat shreds easily. Shred meat then return to crock pot and cook on low for 1 more hour.
- Meanwhile bring remaining 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan then turn heat down to medium and simmer until vinegar is thickened and slightly sweet tasting, about 20 minutes. You'll know it's done when you scrape a spatula across the bottom and the vinegar stays parted for a second or two. Pour reduced balsamic vinegar into a serving dish. (Can do this ahead of time - microwave reduced balsamic vinegar for 15-20 seconds to get it to pouring consistency.)
- Strain the cooking liquid from the crock pot through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth into the same saucepan, leaving a little bit of liquid in the crock pot to keep the meat juicy. Put the meat back into the crock pot and place a lid on top to keep warm. Add remaining beef broth to the saucepan then bring mixture to a boil and then turn heat down to medium and simmer until reduced and vinegar taste has mellowed, 20 minutes. Pour the au jus into a serving dish.
- Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the shallots then saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain then sprinkle lightly with salt and repeat with remaining shallots.
- Pile meat onto buns then top with crispy shallots, blue cheese, and reduced balsamic vinegar. Serve with au jus on the side.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I served my sandwiches with an incredibly easy side of broiled green beans. All I did was toss trimmed, fresh green beans with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, then broil them on a nonstick sprayed baking sheet with the oven rack in the middle of the oven until they were tender and blistered, about 10 minutes. I’ll tell you who might have enjoyed these even more than I did – Lincoln! Couldn’t get enough!