Friday, January 10, 2014

Chicago Italian Beef “Stew Meat Edition” – The Deep Dish Pizza of Sandwiches

I’ve always wondered how stewed beef would work instead of the traditional sliced roast beef for Chicago’s famous Italian Beef Sandwich, which is kind of weird, since I’ve only had the classic version a few times, and never actually made it myself. 

I figured if you’re going to roast a hunk of beef, then slice it and put it back in the juices, why not just cook the meat in a broth to begin with? How had the fine people of Chicago not thought of this obvious adaptation? Were the same people running the Cubs also in charge of civic recipe improvements? Was Kanye West somehow to blame? And another thing; why the hell would the Bears give Jay Cutler that new contract?

Anyway, once I finished my mad experiment, I realized that this wasn’t an improvement on an old sandwich at all; it was just a new sandwich. While the flavors are similar, the texture and overall mouthfeel of this sandwich is completely different. It’s much closer to pulled pork in that respect, but delicious nevertheless.

So, while this ended up not being the Chicago Italian beef breakthrough I had hoped for, it did make for a fine lunch, and if you’re looking for a manly hand-meal for your next shindig, I hope give this tasty, and very juicy sandwich a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large sandwiches:
1 1/2 or 2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 2-inch chunks, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. to taste
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 cups chicken broth, or enough to cover meat by an inch
4 crusty sandwich rolls
1 cup drained Giardiniera (pickled vegetables), chopped into a relish
- Brown meat and simmer covered in the remaining of ingredients until tender


bdwilcox said...

George Lucas' worst character EVER: Jarred Giardiniera

Unknown said...

Mmmmm! This looks delish! If you are ever in the Chicago area and want a good Italian beef you MUST hit up Portillo's and/or Mr. Beef. Can't wait to make your yummy sandwich! My hubby calls me a Chef John groupie.

Unknown said...

Kanye West IS to blame for everything. Recipe looks great Chef John.

FSB said...

You're trying to figure out the CUBS??? And the BEARS??? Good luck. They're two of the reasons I left in 1980.

Jay M. said...

Chef, another Chicago native here, and I share all your original concerns and questions with our sports/political/entertainment objectives. But the beef, come on. I can't just whip together an SF sourdough, amiright?!?

Although, nice job on the ciabatta. This sandwich needs some serious high-gluten chewy bread to make it work. And nice job on the intense jus. If the place knows what's up (skip the big names, hit the place on the corner somewhere under an El stop) they'll give the entire sandwich a quick dip before it's wrapped. Hence the for-real bread.

Anyway, glad to see a variation of our great beef sandwich pop on your board. Btw, the super thin sliced beef is kept warm in the jus before being served on your roll, for more flavor, and to flavor the bread. In retrospect, I never realized how strange it seems to fish your thin sliced meat out of a vat of warm intensely flavored broth, only to serve it up on a sandwich with a heap of giardiniera. Come have another. Cheers!

Unknown said...

That is a bangin lookin sandwich! Great job as usual chef :)

kwh1982 said...

Native Chicagoan here but I have lived in Vegas for the past 5 years. I am so glad you have posted this recipe as I will be making it tonight. I miss the days I would go to Johnnies in Elmwood Park or Al's down on Taylor street. I needed this, thank you Chef John. BTW you should never expect great things from Cubs, real baseball is played on the Southside :)

Mike said...

Love your show. You crack me up!

Unknown said...

Look forward to your recipe. BTW - one of the best Italian Beef sandwiches I've had in Chicago is Jay's Beef in/near Wicker Park. Aside from the sheer quality of the beef, the sheer portion/price ratio is bang on!

Don Gringo said...

Compliments to the chef, my sandwiches turned out banging!

kwh1982 said...

Came out great. While the texture is a little different, as expected, it was still very close and the flavor was spot on! Great job Chef John! This is something I will make again and again.

Jasen said...

Loved it. The broth was rockin. Thanks

LostLilGirl said...

I made this tonight, making a few adjustments here and there. I added peppers and onions to the pot, since all the Italian Beefs I ever had in Chicago had them. I also used a splash of apple cider vinegar and a mixture of Italian herbs and herbs de Provence instead of individual herbs. Served up on chewy sub rolls, and mind came out amazing! Thank you for giving me the courage to try this, Chef!

Lindsay said...

Made this last night for dinner and it turned out great! My husband said "it was the best damned sandwich I've ever eaten." Thanks for the recipe, you are the best Chef John! Chef John for President!

Jude said...

Chef John, I didn't realize that you'd posted an Italian beef recipe; I'd searched fruitlessly online for one after I had the Italian beef brisket sandwich at DiNic's in Philadelphia. I loved that sandwich way more than the touted roast pork sandwich that place has.

It seems to be similar in flavor to the Chicago beef dipped sandwiches, but more of a pot roast with tomato bent minus the giardinare and au jus dip. Your recipes work, so I'm gonna test out using a brisket and see if I can recreate hoagie heaven at home!

Unknown said...

Made this tonight. Really liked it. Might add some horseradish mayo next time.

jrsands said...

I’ve made this a couple times using different cuts & a few different relishes. It’s absolutely fantastic every time.