Better Than Chicago's Best Italian Beef SandwichTell a Friend
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About the beef. Top sirloin, top round, or bottom round are preferred in that order. For tenderness, especially if you cannot cut paper thin slices. My friend David Rosengarten, the famous cookbook author and TV chef, uses chuck, a fattier cut, so the meat will be more tender and flavorful. "Luxurious" is the word he used. About the rub. Notice there is no salt in the rub. You'll get plenty from the bouillon. If you wish, omit the garlic powder and stud the roast with fresh garlic. About the bouillon. I have encountered lively debate on the makeup of the juice as I developed this recipe. Some insist you must use bouillon to be authentic, while others use beef stock, veal stock, or a soup base, and simmer real onions and garlic in it. The bouillon advocates have won me over on the authenticity argument, although I must confess, soup base is my favorite. Soup base is stock concentrated into a paste. It usually has salt added. Click here to read more about stocks, bouillons, consommé, etc. Feel free to substitute soup base or, best of all, make your own stock.
Posted By: jmhoppe
Posted On: Mar 04, 2021
Number of Servings:
- 1 - boneless beef roast (top sirloin or top/bottomround), about 3 pounds with most of the fat trimmed of
- 1 tablespoons - ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons - garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons - onion powder
- 1 teaspoons - dried oregano
- 1 teaspoons - dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoons - crushed red pepper
- 6 cups - of hot water
- 4 cubes - of beef bouillon (yes, bouillon, see the explanation below) *
1) Prep. If you wish, you can stab the surface of the meat every inch or so and stick slivers of fresh garlic into the meat as does my brother-in-law. If you do this, leave the garlic out of the rub. Otherwise, mix the rub in a bowl. Coat the meat lightly with water to help the rub stick, sprinkle it generously on the meat, and massage it in. There will be some left over. Do not discard it, we will use it in the juice.
2) Fire up. If you are cooking indoors, put a rack just below the center of the oven and preheat to 225°F. If you are cooking outdoors use a 2-zone setup or a smoker and get it the oven or the indirect side up to about 225°F.
3) Cook. Pour the water into a 9 x 13" baking pan and heat it to a boil. Dissolve the bouillon in the water. It may look thin, but it will cook down and concentrate during the roasting. Pour the remaining rub into the pan. Place a rack on top of the pan and place them both on the indirect side of the grill or in the oven indoors. Place the roast on top of the rack above the juice. Roast at 225°F until interior temperature is about 130-140°F for medium rare, about 3 hours (exact time will depend on the cut of meat, its thickness, and how well calibrated your cooker is). This may seem long, but you are cooking over water and that slows things down. Don't worry if there are people who won't eat medium-rare meat. The meat will cook further in step 5, and you can just leave theirs in the juice until it turns to leather if that's what they want.
Beware. This recipe is designed for a 9 x 13" baking pan. If you use a larger pan, the water may evaporate and the juice will burn. If you have to use a larger pan, add more water. Regardless of pan size, keep an eye on the pan to make sure it doesn't dry out during cooking. Add more water if necessary.
4) While the meat is roasting (mmmmm, smells sooooo good), cut the bell peppers in half and remove the stems and seeds. Rinse, and cut into 1/4" strips. Cook the peppers in a frying pan over a medium high heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom, about 2 tablespoons. When they are getting limp and the skins begin to brown, about 15 minutes, they are done. Set aside at room temp.
5) Prep again. Remove the roast and the juice pan. Take the meat off the rack and remove the rack. Pour off the juice, put the meat back in the pan, and place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Let it cool for a few hours, long enough for the meat to firm up. This will make slicing easier. Chill the juice, too, in a separate container. Slice the meat against the grain as thin as humanly possible, preferably with a meat slicer.
6) Taste the juice. If you want you can thin it with more water, or make it richer by cooking it down on top of the stove. In Chicago beef stands it is rich, but not too concentrated. Then turn the heat to a gentle simmer. Soak the meat in the juice for about 1 minute at a low simmer. That's all. That warms the meat and makes it very wet. You can't leave the meat in the juice for more than 10 minutes or else it starts to curl up, squeezes out its natural moisture, and toughens. If you go to a beef stand and the meat is really curly, they have committed a mortal sin. At Mr. Beef, for example, I watched them take a handful of cooked beef and dump it into the juice every time they took out enough for a sandwich. This also enriches the juice with meat protein and seasoning from the crust.
7) Serve. To assemble the sandwich, start by spooning some juice directly onto the bun. Get it wet. Then lay on the beef generously. Spoon on more juice (don't burn your hand). Top it with bell pepper and, if you wish, giardiniera. If you want it "wet", dip the whole shootin' match in juice. Be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand.