I know I've gone on record on this blog saying that I don't like store-bought chicken stock. For most applications, 99 times out of 100, I prefer to use homemade chicken stock and will even substitute the chicken stock in a recipe with water if need be.
There is that odd one dish out of the hundred, however, when what I want to achieve is that industrial-commercial taste that only store-bought chicken stock can bring. You know, that taste.
Think the taste of a Chicken McNugget, what Michael Pollan has brilliantly called, in his Omnivore's Dilemma, as that "allusion to chicken," not the taste of real chicken, mind you, but maybe something even more powerful than that, what maybe is the collective nostalgia for that "lost" taste of chicken.
That powerful invocation of "lost" tastes and flavours -- well, that is precisely what I want to have with my shredded beef sandwiches.
Because it does make these shredded beef sandwiches taste so good.
Please don't ask me to find the exact quote and the page number from the book and enough with the pseudo-analysis.
This is a very straightforward recipe.
I sweated some garlic and onions in olive oil and butter. For this application, I didn't want them to get caramelized.
When the onions were sweated enough to release their fragrance, I plopped the beef into the pot and sweated that too.
You can, of course, brown the beef first if so inclined. I just didn't think that browning the beef was going to be necessary, given that I already had a lot of help in the "commercial flavour" department. I added garlic powder and black pepper.
Enter store-bought chicken stock. Enter soy sauce. This tandem makes commercial flavour.
The beef was left in the pot to simmer until tender, which took approximately two hours. You can leave it longer, I suppose, given that the beef was going to be shredded anyways, that is, there really was no way to overcook the beef.
When the beef was done, I used a couple of forks to shred the meat, after which I put the meat back into the pot with the juices. You can also separate the meat from its juices at this point.
The juice is of course going to the dip of beef dip. For somebody more patient, you can leave the liquid to cool overnight. This would make it easier to skim the fat off. I wanted to have my shredded beef sandwiches that day so I made do with spooning the fat out of the "jus" as best I can.
For the side, to complete the experience, I wanted to serve my shredded beef sandwiches with some french fries. I cut up some potatoes into sticks, with the best of intention of frying them up, but when I saw that there were quite a lot of them, I decided to bake them off in the oven. I might have over-baked them a tad in fact.
I bought some "artisan" baguettes from Safeway. Still in keeping with the theme, after all.
The verdict: very commercial, very good.
Nothing like having beef juices drip down one's arm after a very big bite.
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Shredded Beef Dip Sandwich
adapted from The Pioneer Woman's "Drip Beef, Two Ways"
3 pounds bottom blade roast (or chuck roast)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp garlic powder
12 to 16 cups chicken stock (store-bought preferred)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp pepper
Melt butter in pot with olive oil. Sweat onions until fragrant. Add beef roast to pot. Add soy sauce, chicken stock, and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until beef is tender, approximately 2 hours. Shred.
You can put the shredded beef back into the pot with the sauce or serve the shredded beef dry.
To use the sauce as dip, try to skim as much fat as possible with a skimmer. Alternatively, let sauce cool overnight in the fridge and skim fat the next day. Heat the sauce and serve with shredded beef sandwiches.