Originating in South Chicago, the classic Italian Beef Sandwich is a mesmerizing roast beef dish, perfect for dinner with your buddies over a couple of beers. It features a unique take on the original French Dip with a twist; unlike the classic French Dip that you make with a baguette, this variation uses French Rolls, which are much higher in gluten. These provide you with a pillowy inside, perfect for soaking up all the juice, while still maintaining a crust sturdy and thick enough to prevent most leakages.
Before structuring the sandwich itself, you soak this sandwich’s meat wholely with the Dip (more often referred to as ‘juice’), which is just the beef bouillon used in roasting the beef. This method of dipping the meat before serving differs once again from the original French version; with that sandwich, you dip each bite in the juice as you eat. After dipping the meat and building the sandwich, you can also dip the entire sandwich back in the warmed-up juice, but if you do, be prepared for a dripping, wonderfully-flavorsome mess.
Moving on, let’s begin the recipe itself!
Making the classic Chicago Italian Beef sandwich involves slowly roasting a lean cut of beef, covered in a dry rub you’ll be making. Your best bet is using top sirloin with most (but not all!) of its fat removed before cooking, but just about any lean beef will work (though perhaps not as well in terms of flavor). As for the roast itself, the meat is placed on a rack that sits above a pan of seasoned beef bouillon; this becomes the earlier-mentioned ‘juice’ later on. Once roasted, leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of three hours – bear in mind that the best flavor will accumulate overnight (around eight or more hours), but if you don’t have time for this, or simply don’t want to wait that long, three hours will do the trick fine.
Then, cut your cold roast into paper-thin slices, and soak in the warmed-up juice for a couple of minutes (you can warm up the juice in a stove pot). Once you’ve done all that, generously layer your freshly-dipped slices of beef onto the French rolls. Top the meat with sauteed green bell pepper slices and giardiniera. Giardiniera is simply a bunch of pickled serrano peppers, green olives, celery, and spices packed in olive oil. Some variations also come with cauliflower, carrots, and other vegetables. Giardiniera can be purchased from most grocery stores.
To finish it off, add more beef juice onto the open sandwich. After this, you can either dip the entire sandwich in the juice as described earlier or eat it as-is. Both options are amazingly flavorful and tasty in their own ways.
Traditionally, the roast used to make this sandwich is made indoors, but here at TastyBBQing.com, we believe you’re best off making this roast in an outdoor grill of your choosing. To top it all off, you can use wood chunks, chips, or any other wood smoking type to make your sandwich’s flavor profile all the more enjoyable. For more information on how to wood-smoke your meats, visit our guide here.
You may also cook the roast a day or two in advance, making it the perfect Superbowl game day dish for you and all your buddies.
And you’re done! Finally, after hours of work and dedication, you’ve finished making the delicious mess that is the Italian Beef Sandwich. Be proud! Most people give up as soon as they read that it’ll take 3 hours to cook.
I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed this recipe and learned something new. Be sure to leave a comment below if there’s anything you want addressed or clarified, and also share the results you got from this recipe!