Au jus refers to the roast drippings cooks use to sauce the meat from which it came. The French dip, a dish in which thinly sliced petite sirloin is cooked au jus, "with its juice," is perhaps the most recognized dish that uses the flavorful elixir, next to prime rib. However, one roast provides barely enough au jus to make a decent gravy, much less cook a steak in. Whether you're using it for a French dip, or you just want to cook some thinly sliced sirloin in it, you can bolster your au jus with a little help from its cousin, beef broth.
Things You'll Need
- Roasting pan
- Pan drippings
- Aluminum foil
- Fresh herbs such as parsley and thyme
- Beef stock or broth
- Wooden spoon
- Kitchen knife
- Food-storage container (optional)
Much Ado About Au Jus
Roast a large cut of meat, such as a prime rib roast, and transfer it from the roasting pan to a dish. Cover the roast loosely with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 15 minutes per pound before serving.
Skim off all but 2 or 3 tablespoons of fat from the drippings in the roasting pan using a spoon. The drippings comprise au jus in the strictest sense. If you have about 1 quart of drippings left over, you have enough to cook sliced sirloin. If you don't, you have to enhance what you have. Start by placing the roasting pan across two burners on the stove.
Spread mirepoix, or 2 parts diced onions to 1 part each diced carrots and celery, along with some fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme, in the roasting pan and set the burners the pan sits over to high. Brown the mirepoix, stirring occasionally.
Cook until the drippings reduce to "au sec," or nearly dry. Deglaze the pan by pouring in about 1 cup or so of beef stock or broth and scraping the bottom of the pan vigorously with a wooden spoon to dislodge the caramelized bits of meat and vegetables, referred to as fond, sticking to the bottom.
Turn the heat off and pour the au jus into a saucepan; now, set the heat to medium-high. Add a cup or 2 more of beef stock to the saucepan and simmer until reduced by half.
Set the heat to warm to hold the au jus while you thinly slice the petite sirloin, or let the au jus cool to room temperature and store it in the refrigerator in a food-storage container until ready.
Au Jus Part Deux
Heat the au jus in a saucepan over low heat. Low heat on the stove ranges from around 225 degrees Fahrenheit or less to 249 F. The main thing is you don't want the au jus boiling, just barely simmering.
Submerge the thinly sliced petite sirloin in the au jus, about four or five pieces at a time, using tongs. Don't overcrowd the saucepan, or it will take too long for the au jus to return to temperature.
Pull a piece of thinly sliced sirloin out of the au jus after 30 seconds. Petite sirloin sliced about 1/4 inch thick is at about the medium stage after 30 seconds in simmering au jus. You can return the sirloin to cook longer, if desired, but do so in 15-second increments, as it overcooks easily.
Remove the sirloin slices from the au jus using tongs and place them on the bun, mash or on whatever you're serving them with.
Tips & Warnings
- You don't have to cook an entire roast specifically for au jus, but next time you do, reserve the drippings in a sealable food-storage container. You can use the reserved drippings as the base for au jus.
- Use a fat-separating pitcher for easy fat separation. Pour the drippings in a fat-separator pitcher and pour the drippings back in the roasting pan, leaving the fat in the pitcher. Spoon out about 2 tablepoons of fat from the pitcher and place it in the drippings.
- You can also use a high-quality broth as an au jus replacement for French dip sandwiches and other dishes.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images