Friday, February 5, 2010
Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches
Last December, CJ got mad at me because, "All you post are recipes!" I was excited to share some of the recipes for the goodies I had served at my Christmas brunch. Edie provided a thoughtful response to CJ--something along the lines of, "We like food." We like to talk about good food, too, and exchange recipes for good food.
And, every food post here has a story:
When we lived in the western Chicago suburbs, we came to know a treat called Chicago Italian Beef. This was about as far from an East Coast cold roast beef sandwich as you could find. Portillo's, a hot dog giant, also made this delicious hot sandwich in our town. It wasn't long before we wanted to make our own and save the trip to the restaurant.
But, as I said, this is no typical roast beef sandwich. I remember getting a recipe and trying to make it with purchased supermarket deli sliced beef. Never tasted right. Tried to make our own roast, but we could never slice the meat thin enough by hand.
Enter Mom and Pop J! I remember Mom J asking me one year what we might want for Christmas. My husband and I must either have been talking about the sandwich or eating one, but I mentioned that we might like a meat slicer, so we could make our own Chicago Italian Beef. And, we do! And lots of other sandwiches.
At first, the slicer seemed like a luxury kitchen item. But we quickly discovered that buying a larger quantity of meat, cooking and seasoning it yourself, and slicing it as you go, makes for many a good dinner and, later, a lunchtime sandwich. The recipe we use comes from "The Frugal Gourmet" Jeff Smith, who we used to watch on the PBS station in Chicago early Saturday evenings, often with dinner on trays.
This recipe makes enough for 4 to 6 sandwiches. The photos that I took today show a half-recipe. Get a slab of beef before the next snow storm, and enjoy a taste of Chicago!
Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich 4-6 sandwiches
1 4-pound sirloin tip roast
Salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 large red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1" strips
2 large green bell peppers, cored and cut into 1" strips
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
2 C beef stock
1-1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 C dry white wine
2 T chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
4-6 individual Italian poor boy rolls
Season the meat with salt and pepper, oregano and thyme. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 2 hours or until the meat reaches 130 degrees in the center. Remove and allow to cool. Deglaze the roasting pan with a little water and place the juices in a 6-quart pot.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan and add the oil, garlic, red and green bell peppers, and onions. Saute for 5 minutes and add to the pot.
Slice the cooled meat very thinly across the grain. (You will need an electric meat slicer to do this properly; call me if you're local.) Place the sliced meat in the pot along with any meat juices that may have accumulated during cooling.
Add the beef stock, chicken stock, wine and parsley. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Watch the snow change to sleet and back again; keep pace with Boardwalk-hoarding daughter at Monopoly.)
Stir the pot a couple of times while cooking, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to rest, covered, for 15 minutes.
Dip each roll in the broth in the pot so that it is saturated and heavy. Fill the roll with plenty of simmered beef and vegetables. Enjoy! (We did!)