It’s Memorial Day weekend! The unofficial beginning of summer. 🙂
To celebrate this weekend, I tried making my own version of Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches. My husband is from Chicago, and this is one dish that is very hard to come by outside of the city limits. He misses his occasional beef sandwich in Seattle.
I found a recipe from Cook’s Country magazine that sounded promising. They do such a nice job testing recipes at that magazine, so I thought that would be a good place to go for an authentic dish. I would highly recommend subscribing to their magazine, or to their sister magazine, Cook’s Illustrated. They are definitely a trusted source in my kitchen.
We ended up sharing the beef with another of Rob’s friends from Chicago, and both he and Rob thought this recipe was very close to what they remembered from their childhoods!
I did change a couple of things from the original recipe to make them a little healthier and to make them a little more authentic. My butcher trimmed the beef very well, so very little fat remained. I also used kosher salt instead of table salt to reduce the sodium. The original recipe asked for the giardiniera to be blended with mayonnaise, but that’s not what I have experienced in Chicago, so I didn’t follow those instructions. I also didn’t put the giardiniera liquid into the jus for the same reason. The jus had a ton of flavor all by itself. One final thing I added was a bell pepper to include a vegetable and to stay authentic.
The whole dish only took a couple of hours, and most of that time was just roasting the beef (so I could go off and do other things.) It is definitely an easy recipe to repeat over and over again.
Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches
4 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoon dried basil
4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 4-lb top sirloin roast, trimmed of most of the fat
2 tablespoons oil (canola, grape seed, or vegetable)
1 finely chopped onion
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 cups low sodium beef broth
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch strips
French bread for serving
Giardiniera packed in oil for serving
(If you are in the Seattle area, De Laurenti Specialty Food and Wine has a nice selection of authentic giardiniera. That’s the only ingredient that’s a little tricky to find.)
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Combine the garlic powder, basil, oregano, and pepper in a small bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium high heat until it is almost smoking. Pat the meat dry with paper towels, and brown on all sides. Transfer to a roasting pan with a V-rack to keep the meat from resting on the bottom of the pan.
Add the onion to the remaining fat in the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, flour and 1 teaspoon of the spice mix. Cook about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the broths and water, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil. Then add the liquid mixture to the roasting pan.
Stir 1 tablespoon of oil, red pepper flakes and salt into the remaining spice mix. Massage the mix all over the meat.
Roast for about 90 minutes, covered, and then transfer the meat to a cutting board. (It should still be a little pink in the middle). Tent with foil, and let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Pour the jus through a fine mesh strainer into a pan, and keep at a low simmer.
Microwave the sliced bell pepper for two minutes to give it a head start. Then add it to the jus, and let it soften.
Slice the meat as finely as possible, and place it in the jus on the stove. Cook until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Serve the beef on French bread slices, with spicy giardiniera. We also like to serve it with a little bowl of jus to dip.
Take a bite and imagine you are at the shores of Lake Michigan on a picnic blanket on the beach!