On Super Bowl Sunday I attempted to fulfill one of Michael's foodie wishes. He has been craving Chicago Italian beef sandwiches, and I decided to do some research and make some for him. He got to relive some good memories, and I learned that making Italian beef is pretty easy and well worth it!
Italian beef is a Chicago institution, and a number of restaurants around town serve up this dripping wet sandwich, which is best eaten over a trough. The meat is roasted to medium rare, sliced thin, then simmered in an au jus made from the meat drippings, stock, lots of oregano, and other seasonings. To eat it, you fill a sub roll full of meat and then dip the whole sandwich into the au jus. No dainty dipping of the ends, you plunge the whole sandwich in! Then you top it with bell peppers and giardineria (pickled vegetables). It is sloppy and good!
While researching I came across Roadfood.com, which has an active forum, and I found a thread that discussed making your own Italian beef. After reading the thread, I decided to follow a recipe attributed to Max's Italian Beef. I cannot verify if indeed this is indeed their recipe, but we thought it tasted pretty darn good. Neither the giardineria nor the dry rub ingredients had any amounts listed in the original, so I made a wild educated guess. I also played around with the giardineria a bit, adding some pepperoncini instead of the serrano peppers, and we liked it.
Cutting the meat properly is crucial to a good Italian beef sandwich. Slice it as thinly as possible using a meat slicer or an electric knife. We used to use an electric knife and learned that short strokes produced thinner slices than trying to make large, full slices. Again, not completely authentic, but we made do with what we had. Now that we have a meat slicer, it works much, much better. And for safety reasons, we box it up and put it away after each use to keep it out of the boys' reach.
Using the right bread is also very important. Bread that is too light will fall apart in the au jus, so use some hefty sub rolls or a good French bread cut into individual portions.
I used some fresh oregano from my kitchen garden for the au jus, so this is my contribution to Grow Your Own for February. If you are growing your own produce or raising your own meats, then join in! The deadline for entries is February 27th.
Make It Gluten Free
You can use gluten-free rolls, just make sure they will hold up to the au jus.
[Updated January 3, 2012.]
Italian Beef Sandwiches
- roasting pan and rack
- meat thermometer
- small bowl
- 6 quart pot
- electric knife
- glass jar with lid
- small sauce pan
- 12 sub rolls (or French bread, or gluten free rolls, hefty texture, otherwise it will fall apart in the au jus)
- 5 pound bottom round roast (aka outside round roast)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon course black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 quarts gluten-free low-sodium beef broth (or homemade stock)
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large green bell peppers (slice thin)
- 8 ounces beef broth (or homemade stock)
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano ( or 1 tablespoon dried oregano)
- 4 stalks celery (thinly sliced)
- 6 serrano peppers ( or pepperoncini. thinly sliced)
- ¼ cup sliced green olives (optional)
- 6 Italian hot peppers (thinly sliced or chopped)
- 2 cups canola oil
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- GIARDINERIA: Several hours to one day before you prepare the meat, put all the vegetables for the giardineria in a jar. Heat the olive oil, vinegar, and salt in the microwave just until warm. Pour over the vegetables, then put a lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator.
- MEAT: Preheat the oven to 350° F/175° C. In the small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the dry rub, then rub the mixture all over the outside of the roast. Stick in the meat thermometer and place the roast on the rack. Roast in the oven until the meat is 140° F/60° C (medium rare). Remove from the oven and allow it to sit for 1 hour before slicing.
- AU JUS: In the 6 quart pot, add the beef broth, garlic, oregano, and black pepper.
- Using the electric knife or meat slicer, shave the meat as thinly as possible and put the slices into the au jus. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Do not boil the meat.
- SWEET PEPPERS: While the meat simmers, put the sliced sweet peppers, broth, water, and oregano in the small sauce pan and heat just to a boil, then drain.
- To serve, pile some of the meat onto the sliced rolls, then dip the whole thing into the au jus. Then add some sweet peppers and some of the giardineria. Eat with lots of napkins or paper towels.
african vanielje says
Okay, I never claimed to be a dainty eater. This sounds like my idea of heaven.
I have to apologise, I have just realised that your blog was not on my blogroll. I normally visit you via my taskbar and must have ommitted you when I redid my blog. Not intentionally as I am a regular reader. Fixed now!
I'm not a dainty eater, either, so we are in good company! 🙂
Thanks for adding me back to your blogroll.
I'm hungry already.
De in D.C. says
I love the RoadFood guys. If you ever listen to The Splendid Table on NPR (Sat. afternoons on WAMU) they do a bit each show. A few weeks ago they reviewed a Fairfax favorite:
Your sandwiches look to die for. My other half loves anything beef and peppers, so I'll have to try them one of these days.
De, thanks for the link to the Chutzpah review. As soon as Michael sees the photo of that Reuben, he'll want to go!!
WoW! This looks absolutely delicious! You are such a talented lady and I just love reading about all your fantastic creations =D.
BTW, I have to give you a big hug for your Mardi Gras recipe of Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Bourbon and Pecans! I made this and shared! Delicious and I will have to make this again because is just that Great! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe =D
Shandy @Pastry Heaven
yum, those sandwiches look great!
i just joined the DB this month, just checking out everyone else’s blogs, wanted to say hello 🙂
Susan from Food Blogga says
Italian beef sandwiches and football would make any man happy. Thanks for introducing me to a new dish.
Shandy, glad to hear that you liked the cake!
MrsPresley, thanks and welcome to the DBs!
Susan, Michael was VERY happy with them!
MAJ K says
If your husband wants to get something like "Portillo's Hotdog", he should try "Zack's Hotdog" in White Marsh in Maryland. I ate there on the Memorial Day Weekend on the way back from NYC to DC area. They have Vienna Beef Chicago Style Hotdog and Italian Beef sandwich.
There are two great websites that have databases that show you where you can find a Chicago-Style Hot Dog and also this one where you can find an Italian Beef
Both sites have places all over the US that serve the wonderful Chicago Food dishes!
I hope you enjoy!
Don't know what Gravatars are..please describe, also would like to see your recipe for Cream cheese pound cake with bourbon & pecans.
Hi Diana. Gravatars are the small pictures that go with your comments. You can sign up at the website linked above. And here is the Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Bourbon and Pecans, just omit the frosting and sugar sprinkles.
Great job Andrea!! I just want to throw a couple things out there, technically in Chicago its not Au Jus, on the Italian Beef sandwich its called gravy. Also, a real Chicago Beef isn't soaked or simmered in the juices, you just briefly "re-Introduce" them together once again and then place on the bread....
All in all, GREAT job and keep up the good work!!
King Beefy says
Awesome! I am delighted to see these various types of Chicago Italian beef sandwich. You tell much about the store or shops for delicious sandwich lovers.