I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus for some time… With the loss of a good friend who is dearly missed, my creative inspiration has been a little weak lately. Well, one thing that makes me feel better is some good ‘ol comfort food, the kind like my mom used to make. This last weekend, I made my Mom’s Italian beef recipe to pick my spirits up. The smell alone can heal just about anything, filling the air with memories of family holidays and gatherings of friends. That was when I realized that I needed to share this little piece of culinary cure-all. So to get the blog rolling again, here is something a little dressed up by me, but the roots are still with Ma, and the memories are always good ones.
Chicago style Italian beef is a sandwich you can find at little stands all over Illinois. The variations are vast: from the beef being sliced or shredded, cheese or no cheese, sweet bell peppers or giardiniera (pickled peppers) on top, or even having the whole damn thing dunked in it’s own au jus. Regardless, you need slow roasted beef chuck, a good chewy Italian loaf of bread and A LOT of oregano…
3-4 lb chuck roast
1 jar of pepperoncinis
5 cloves garlic smashed
32 oz beef stock
1 cup water
4 Tbls oregano
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
Good melting cheese of your choice (provolone for me)
Italian sandwich bread (this recipe makes 4 to 6 big sandwiches)
Take the roast out of the fridge an hour before you start. Preheat oven to 375 and get out your heavy dutch oven. Heat a tablespoon of oil (or BACON FAT) over medium high in the dutch oven. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear the roast on all sides until nice and brown. While all that browning is going on, cut the tops off of all the pepperoncinis except 6 of them. Throw the now topless peppers in the pot with the roast, dump in the beef broth, water, oregano, garlic and a 1/4 cup of the juice from the pepperoncinis. Bring it all to a boil, put a lid on it and place in the oven. Roast at 375 for an hour, then turn down to 325 and roast for at least 2 more hours (3 or 4 would be better, but I bet you can’t overcome the smell). After however long you manage to hold off, take the roast out, check to see if it needs more salt and shred it up using tongs. Put the pot on a low heat to keep it all hot while you get the rest ready.
Stir together mayo and horseradish sauce on a 2:1 ratio. 2 tablespoons mayo to 1 tablespoon horseradish should be enough for 4 sandwiches. Dice up the remaining pepperoncinis to garnish. Split the rolls down one side, but not all of the way through so the bread has a “hinge”. Put sliced cheese on one side of the bread and throw them in the oven to melt the cheese. Take rolls out, spread mayo on the other side and load up with shredded beef. Ladle out some of the au jus from the pot for dipping and be happy.