Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches

Originally from Chicago, I think I'm required to L-O-V-E Italian beef sandwiches! There's something so satisfying about the combination of slow cooked, juicy beef alongside roasted peppers and provolone cheese on a freshly baked homemade Italian roll. I saw a fabulous recipe for Italian beef on The Food Network's Sandwich King (not only is the Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro, from Chicago, but he is also an alum of my alma mater, Bradley University) that I've adapted to make it my own. I love the idea of shredding the beef instead of having to attempt to slice it as thinly as they do in a restaurant. This is such an easy and delicious recipe (it also freezes VERY well) that I'm sure it'll become a regular on your dinner table as it has on mine!
Yields: eight HUGE sandwiches (this will feed 8-10 hungry people)
*Note: I usually divide the beef and jus into four separate meals (3 of which go into the freezer for later)

4 batches of Italian bread shaped into eight small loaves
1- 3 lb. chuck roast
3 cans of reduced sodium beef broth 
2 tsp. red pepper flake
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp. canola oil
8 smashed garlic cloves
1 roughly chopped yellow onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 cups red wine (I usually use Cabernet)
4 green peppers 
4 red peppers 
2 tbsp. olive oil

For the beef:
In a dutch oven, heat the canola oil on high. Liberally salt and pepper the chuck roast (I usually let the meat rest on the counter for about 15 minutes before I sear it) then carefully place it into the dutch oven (go slowly so the oil doesn't splatter!). Leave it alone for a good five minutes; you'll know it's ready to flip when it comes up easily from the pan. If it sticks, let it cook a little longer. Flip and sear the other side. Remove the roast to a plate. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes until translucent stirring in the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes in the last minute or so. Add the wine and raise the heat to high, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all of the bits and pieces from the roast incorporated. Once the wine has reduced by about a third, add the broth, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil (you may want to taste and adjust the salt at this point). Place the roast back into the pan and cover. Cook at 300 degrees for 3-4 hours, turning about every 45 minutes or so. The meat will be falling apart when it's done. Cool then strain the liquid through a sieve. Shred the beef with two forks and place it into the liquid. This is the most important part, in my opinion: refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. It makes a HUGE difference in taste!

For the roasted peppers:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil over the peppers and put them on a baking sheet with a lip (to avoid spilling) and roast for about 40 minutes, turning occasionally. Place the peppers in a brown paper bag and allow to cool (this helps remove the skins). Remove the skins and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. You can make these a day or two ahead!

Slice your freshly baked rolls and top with provolone slices, beef, jus and roasted peppers. Serve with additional warmed jus for dipping (jardiniere is also delicious with this sandwich). You can also dip the sandwich in its entirety into the jus (this recipe yields plenty!) then wrap it in foil, throw on a bib and go to town!