The best French dip sandwiches are the simplest: nothing but tender roast beef, good-quality bread, maybe a smear of mustard or horseradish, and a cup of au jus on the side. For my pizza version, I slow-cooked a grass-fed beef roast in beer-flavored broth for 7 hours, then shredded the beef. Once the pizza dough was stretched and ready, I slathered it with homemade horseradish aioli and topped it with the shredded beef and slices of provolone cheese. In addition to making the finished product look more like a pizza and less like an open-face sandwich, the cheese also helped "glue" the beef to the crust, so it didn't fall off when we dipped our slices in au jus.
This pizza makes you work for it, but a 3-pound roast will yield enough extra meat for one more dinner and maybe a lunch or two later in the week. (Or you can freeze the beef in an airtight container for up to 1 year.) And you will only need about one-third of the aioli recipe, so there will be leftovers of that, too. However, since the excess aioli will only keep in the fridge for three days, plan on using it as a dipping sauce for oven fries, slathering it over cooked fish or poultry, or, of course, making French dip sandwiches with the extra beef and au jus.
French Dip Pizza with Horseradish Aioli (aioli recipe borrowed from Corey Lee's French Dip recipe in Food & Wine)
Makes one 12-inch pizza (plus leftover beef, aioli, and au jus)
For the beef:
- 1 (3-pound) beef eye roast, trimmed of excess fat
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup dark beer
For the aioli (recipe from Food & Wine):
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons drained prepared horseradish
For the pizza:
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball Basic Pizza Dough (or pre-made dough)
- 6 slices provolone cheese
To cook the beef: Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear the beef on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the beef to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet, toss in the onions, and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions just begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat.
Arrange the onion slices and garlic on the bottom of your slow cooker, and place the seared beef roast on top, then toss in the bay leaves.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the broth, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, mustard, and beer. Pour the broth mixture over the beef in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. The meat will be very tender. Turn off the slow cooker and, using two forks, shred the meat right in the crock insert. Set aside to cool slightly.
Place your pizza stone (if using) on an oven rack about 8 inches from the broiler. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prepare the toppings.
To make the aioli: In a food processor, combine the egg yolks, vinegar, and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Process on high for 90 seconds, and then, with the machine still running, slowly stream in the oil until the mixture is emulsified (it will look like mayo). With a spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the horseradish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the aioli to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the pizza.
To stretch/roll out the dough: Dust the ball of dough with flour and place it on a well-floured work surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch disk.
If you’re using a pizza stone: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet generously with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
If you're using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza: Spread the pizza with a thin, even layer of horseradish aioli, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Scatter on about 1 cup of the shredded beef (making sure to get a little of its juice, too, but not so much that the dough will get soggy) and layer the provolone slices on top.
To bake the pizza: If you're using a pizza stone, 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza for 5 to 7 minutes (3 to 5 minutes in a gas oven), until the bottom of the crust is crispy and the top is blistered. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone to reheat under the broiler for 5 minutes before you cook the next one.
If you're using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake at 500°F for about 10 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is crispy and the top is blistered.
Let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the cooking juices from the crock insert of your slow cooker into a small saucepan (you will have about 1-1/2 or 2 cups) and set the saucepan over medium heat. Slice the pizza and serve with a small bowl of the warm au jus for dipping.