Chicago Style… A Meal By Itself

Italian Beef Sandwich -- Chicago style. Photo/kevinmarshThis is what an Italian Beef Sandwich should look like. The sandwich in this picture is from Al's Italian Beef and has been "dipped."

An Italian Beef Sandwich is a roast beef sandwich on steroids. Granted, not a healthy lunch idea but no one can argue it's exotic flavor and hypnotic allure. This is an all time favorite Chicago first choice in sandwich recipes.

I've used this recipe for years. It comes close to the recipes used by the legends. Works great for a large gathering, inexpensive and can be prepared ahead of time. They go fast and freeze well. And don't forget to "dip."

MEAT: Don't use an expensive prime roast for your Italian Beef Sandwich. Use top sirloin butt, top round roast, bottom round roast, rump roast or other lean, boneless roast. For best results use a meat slicer (small investment), you want thin, almost shaved, slices.

BREAD: Use Italian-style rolls, 6-8 inches long. Look for a bread that has 'wet strength', that can stand up to the delicious au jus. French bread isn't dense enough to hold up.

PAN SIZE: Use a pan size close to the size of your roast. If pan is too big, all the juices will burn away. Monitor pan juices while the roast is cooking and add more liquid if needed.

TO FREEZE: Freeze au jus and sliced beef separately. In either individual servings or family size.

SERVE WITH: Tossed salad, cucumber salad, cole slaw or marinated vegetables. Most restaurants and sandwich shops serve with french fries, but I prefer to save more room for the sandwich.

CALORIES: Approximately 450-600 for one hearty sandwich. Most of the calories (and fat) are in the beef. Choose a lean, boneless roast.

Italian Beef Sandwiches

1 (5 lb.) boneless beef roast
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. black pepper

4 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers

4 cups beef broth
1-2 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. black pepper
1 onion, diced
1 t. Tabasco sauce
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste (depends on how salty the broth is)

6-12 Italian-style (6-8 inches) rolls
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Season roast with garlic powder, dried oregano and pepper, place in shallow roasting pan and roast uncovered. About 30 minutes per pound. Roast will be rare, don't over cook it!
  2. While roast is cooking, place red and green peppers on rack in broiler pan. Broil 10-15 minutes, or until skins blister. Seal peppers in plastic bag and let cool. Remove loosened skin and cut peppers in 3/4 inch strips, reserve for sandwich.
  3. When roast is finished, cool -- at least 30 minutes, or overnight in refrigerator -- then slice very thin. A meat slicer is strongly recommended.
  4. To the roast's pan drippings add -- beef broth, oregano, thyme, pepper, Tabasco, garlic, Worcestershire and onion. Simmer for 20 minutes or more, scraping up the browned bits. Taste, add more salt if needed.
  5. To make a sandwich, add sliced beef to warm (not boiling) au jus. When beef is heated (about a minute or two), immediately fill Italian bun. Don't leave beef in too long or the edges begin to curl and meat becomes tough and chewy. Dip entire sandwich in au jus (preferred) or spoon generous amount over sandwich. Top with reserved peppers. I also recommend trying pepperoncini peppers or giardiniera (pickled vegetables) as toppings. Or serve plain.

Serve immediately with plenty of napkins and homemade iced tea.

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