A Kinda Fancy Version of a Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwich

This is a surprisingly simple recipe which can be put together in a matter of just minutes of active cooking time. Don't let the seemingly long list of ingredients and sub-recipes fool you. It is EASY. Though this is absolute heresy, you could use left over steak and make a small batch of sauce on its own. I did that earlier this week and it was quite surprisingly good, though the texture of the meat differed from the true Italian beef sandwich.

I'm not sure if other cities or regions offer anything exactly like Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches. Sure there's French Dip, but the specific taste of the Chicago is unique. I guess owing to Jay Leno, people outside Chicago now know a little about it. the two key aspects of the style are that the roll is soaked in beefy "juice" prior to serving, and the pepper toppings are fairly unique to the sandwich.

There are two Chicago style approaches to the toppings, roughly. Of course, many people put both on the same sandwich.

  • Hot - which means giardiniera, a spicy mix of peppers, onion, cauliflower and other vegetables. Even "mild" giardiniera is fairly spicy.
  • Sweet - which implies pan roasted bell peppers. Usually green, sometimes green and red.

I had some giardiniera on hand, but Margie and the kids would probably pass on the spicy version. In fact, most of them would pass on the sweet version too, but whatever. So I went "High End Sweet", and slowly cooked onion, garlic and fennel with red, orange and green peppers. I added a few fennel seeds, dried oregano (bowing to local tradition) and hot pepper flakes. It looked like this, and was delicious.

Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches


3-5 pound beef roast (rump, bottom, sirloin) or leftover steak
1.5 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano
5 medium garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
Salt and fresh ground pepper
     --- Combine all ingredients and marinate for 4 hours or overnight.
     --- Place beef on a rack in a roasting pan and pout marinade into pan
     --- Roast in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours, until internal temperature is 140 degrees
     --- Let beef rest at least 30 minutes, or chill in fridge.
     --- Reserve all the liquid, and keep warm in the roasting pan or a separate pot
     --- Cut paper thin slices, preferably with an electric slicer.


If you don't cook the roast beef, and use leftover steak slices, use this recipe for sauce.
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
(I swear, this is the first time I've recommended two dried herbs. But, we're trying to stay authentic-like)
Salt and Pepper to taste
     --- Bring sauce ingredients to a boil in a small sauce pan, then simmer while making peppers.

Peppers and Fennel

1 small red onion, sliced
1 bulb fresh fennel, white parts, sliced thinly
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 orange or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (again, an homage)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and fresh ground pepper
      --- Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat
      --- Add onion and fennel and cook for 5-6 minutes
      --- Add remaining ingredients, cook for 5-6 minutes
      --- Lower heat to medium-low or low
      --- Cook for 5-6 more minutes, or until peppers are soft, but have not changed colors (gotten pale)


8 thick sandwich rolls
      --- Add beef to sauce and let sit over low heat to warm through.
      --- To serve, use tongs to place beef into sliced rolls. The rolls CANNOT EVER be toasted, just in case anyone from outside Chicago gets any crazy ideas.
      --- Spoon additional sauce over the sandwich to make it as "dry" or "wet" as you prefer.
      --- Top with a generous portion of the mixed peppers.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...