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Unlock the mystery of the Chicago-style Italian Beef

I'm in Boston and crave the wonders of the Italian Beef. I know there was a recipe posted a while back. I have that on my 'to try' list, but does anyone have any other recipes floating around?

Most I've found online use a combo of boullion/broth and dry italian seasoning....

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  1. oh god..I was born & raised in Chicago but haven't had an authentic beef sandwich since I left 6 yrs ago. My dad grew up in the little Italy neighborhood & had the best recipe ever. Problem is is that it's in his head.
    I remember he would cook that roast for a good 8 - 10 hours. Some garlic, italian herbs, beef stock, worcestershire sauce, fresh ground pepper. I think he let the roast cool in the fridge overnight & then he would slice it with the meat slicer. Take the pan drippings add more stock & simmer the sliced beef until hot.

    1. That's close to recipes I've found that DON'T use the packaged italian seasoning.

      Scala does mail order so I might just do that :)

      1. My Italian friend makes great homemade Italian Beef. She uses dry herbs, Italian pickled peppers and some of the juice, salt, pepper, etc. I'll put a call in for the recipe and get back to you.

        1. i live in los angeles and just made for a party and modified recipes i got from chicago restaurant web sites www.buona.com and www.tonynitti.com

          what i found...

          all recipes called for garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
          inserting garlic slivers into the meat is a must
          need lots and lots of time, slow cooking in a 250 oven
          it is great if you have a meat slicer (borrowed one from a friend) to get the real thin slices
          hot giardiniera is available in lots of grocery stores.

          1. Thank you!
            The thin slices is hanging me up a bit. I don't have a slicer or access to one...Do you think having it sliced raw by the butcher and netting it back up would work? I could place garlic slivers between the slices, but do you think it would dry out too quickly?

            2 Replies
            1. re: tallullah

              i think it would dry out too quickly. we were going to ask the safeway deli to help us out and then found a friend with the slicer. i bet a neighborhood deli would help.

              1. re: tallullah

                If you make it the day before, you can stick the cooked beef in the freezer, for a couple of hours, and then slice it much more thinly. I did this with a beef tenderloin and it came out beautifully. Especially if you reheat the next day in the juices, I think it would come out quite well.

              2. And in a pinch order a Portillo's party pack!!!

                1. I grew up in Chicago and I'm suffering on the west coast from the same deprivation. If you have a crock pot try the pepperoncini beef recipe that's floating around. A beef chuck roast, a bottle of pepperoncini with the juice and as much garlic, onions and green peppers as you see fit. 6-8 hours on low til it all falls apart. You don't need to slice it, it's kinda like "pulled" italian beef.

                  1. I'll look out for it. I'm determined to do it this weekend! Although I will be in Chicago in a few weeks. I'm hoping to ship some back to boston.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tallullah

                      You can actually go to the Vienna beef plant up on the north side, they have a store and an employee cafeteria that is open to the public. If you got some early enough in the trip you could freeze it solid and transport it home.

                      The tougher part is getting decent giardiniere (hot peppers in oil)outside of Chicago. Most places have the vinegar type from Mazzetta, but this doesn't really work. My brother smuggles me out 4 quart jars whenever he's coming to SFO.

                    2. Ok so I tried a recipe I found on the internet. Slow roasted the meat. Juiced up the sauce with veal stock, tried herbs worchester and tobasco. I used a meat slicer. Unfortunately it's only just ok. I was going to make this for New Years Eve, but now I just want to take out from All Star Sandwich (if possible for a crowd) or order from Chicago. They are probably the same price.
                      Any thoughts?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sue R

                        I've never put coffee in my Italian beef . . . and I've never put worchester or tobasco in. I think all of these things are creating very strong flavors which are disguising the Chicago Italian beef flavor that you're looking for.

                        I hope you're starting with a sirloin tip butt. Of the types of beef that can be used, this is the most flavorful and it is the only one I use.

                        I always cut some slits and insert garlic in the roast, but I don't know that everyone does this.

                        I use a rub of crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder (if not adding fresh garlic), salt and ground black pepper to season the meat. After dry roasting, I'm left with the juice for the beef (from the water and pan drippings and the added seasonings). You can then adjust the juice to your taste -- add more water, add more seasonings, reduce, whatever . . . at this point it's in your hands just like the flavor of any stock. Veal stock, beef stock, bouillon -- they're all acceptable additions for the juice and I would add after the beef has cooked. There should always be some fat left in the juice -- don't skim too much. I've ordered Johnnie's beef (the very best) for parties before and the juice they provide always has a thin layer of fat.

                        Once I've cooked the beef, I then save the juice and chill the beef so that I can slice it really thin. Once sliced, I put the sliced beef in a crock pot with the juice. I will not tell you that my beef tastes exactly like Johnnie's, but I think it's pretty damn good.

                        If you're looking for giardiniera, I agree that you should find it packed in oil. Here's one good source: http://www.dellalpe.com/PRODUCTS/giar... and here's another: http://www.iwanthotpeppers.com/q-shop.... Good luck.

                      2. Don't know if its been mentioned and I hope I'm not devulging a secret that will get my "chicagoan card" revoked but when I was growing up we always put 1 cup of extremely strong coffee in the pot. Sounds weird but I've had it both ways and its just not right without it.