Despite the name, this sandwich is all-American and completely unknown in France. In fact, the only thing that is French about it is the bread and the name of the sauce that it’s dipped into (au jus). Classically, this sandwich is served with beef that is seasoned heavily and roasted in the oven to mediumrare doneness. I prefer smoking my beef, which adds a touch of bacon-like flavor, because, well, everything should taste like bacon—or should I say, le bacon.
Place the beef in a gallon-size zip-top bag. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and chile flakes. Pour the marinade over the beef, seal well, and turn upside down a few times to make sure that the roast is completely covered in the marinade. Place in a large bowl or on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 day, or up to 3 days (I marinate it for 3 days at BarBacon). Remove the beef from the marinade 30 minutes before smoking and pat dry with paper towels.
Prepare your smoker according to the manufacturer’s directions. As to the temperature to smoke, I keep it fairly low, at 250°F (120°C). Remember: Do not raise the lid of the smoker any more than you absolutely need to (it reduces the temperature inside every time you do).
Place the drip pan over the chips and fill it with the stock; place a rack on top of the drip pan. Place the roast in the center of the rack and partially close the smoker lid, leaving it open only a couple of inches. Smoke for about 2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 125°F (52°C) for medium-rare (see Note). Remove from the smoker, loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let the beef rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before carving (the meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the smoker).
Carefully remove the drip pan with the stock in it and strain the liquid through a sieve into a large saucepan. Whisk in the Brisket Sauce and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Preheat the broiler. Butter the cut side of the bread, place on a baking sheet, and broil until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Add half of the sliced beef to the stock mixture and cook for 1 minute, just to heat through. Remove from the heat and divide the beef among the bread pieces. Add the lettuce, if desired. Serve with a bowl of the stock mixture as a dipping sauce on the side.
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