We LOVE the 50 nifty United States of this awesome country and believe each state is special. Every Monday we feature a sandwich unique to its state as part of our “50 Sandwiches, 50 States, 50 Weeks” series beginning with Alabama and ending with Wyoming.
Hey there. Another Monday, another state sandwich! Today we present to you the Italian Beef Sandwich from the great state of Illinois. This sandwich has a little history and is said to have originated in the Italian area of South Chicago in the early 1920’s. In less fortunate areas, where ground meat was what could be normally afforded, whole beef for roasting was an occasional treat. Out of that setting, the Italian Beef Sandwich was born and made popular by Pasquale Sacala, a butcher and sausage maker.
Similar to a French Dip, the beef is roasted in an oven over beef stock, or “juice”, thinly sliced, and served on Italian bread loves, topped with bell peppers and giardiniera. You can find more info from Meathead at AmazingRibs.com ‘s website- he really knows his stuff! After all, he’s married to a South Chicago Italian- American! Meathead mentions some “lively debates” he’s had over the years about the makeup of the beef “juice” and he’s been convinced beef bouillons dissolved in water is the authentic way to make the “juice.”
I’d never had giardiniera before and for those of you that don’t know, it’s a mixture of pickled vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, celery, serano peppers, bell peppers, olives, etc. I excitedly rushed out and bought my first jar of giardiniera to give it a try and whoa-mama-mia it was waaaaay too salty and we couldn’t eat it. Maybe it was the brand we chose. I have nothing to compare it to. That’s when we knew we HAD to make our own. Not to brag, but ours was so much better! You’re going to love it! We looked at other giardienera recipes out there and many instructed to soak the vegetables overnight in salt. We decided to go with our usual vegetable pickling recipe and it turned out fantastic, plus there’s no wait time (although allowing a couple of days for all the flavors to meld is best). Our version of giardiniera differed than Chicago-style which is said to just use peppers, celery and green olives. But we like the idea of using a variety of vegetables.
Wow! This smells ah-mazing when it’s cooking and there’s almost no prep work involved. Score! The meat is so tender and juicy. It’s traditionally sliced paper thin requiring a meat slicer, which we don’t have. We just sharpened our knife as best as we could and got to slicin’! Meathead gave a fab little tip to reserve the juice and then place the cooked meat in the refrigerator 3 hours so it could firm up a bit and make slicing easier. We simply couldn’t wait and don’t mind the meat a little more on the thick side. And the giardiniera brings it all together.
- 3 lbs. top round beef roast
- Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. black pepper
- 2 tsps. garlic powder or granulated garlic
- 1 tsp. each basil, onion powder, oregano, salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 6 cups water
- 4 beef bouillon cubes
- 2 Tbsps. olive oil
- 3 bell peppers, sliced
- Giardiniera (see recipe below)
- 6 Italian loaves or hoagie rolls
- 1 cup cauliflower, chopped into even small florets
- ¾ cup bell pepper, chopped
- ¾ cup carrots, chopped
- ¾ cup red onion, chopped
- ¾ cup celery (about 3 stalks), chopped
- 2 large jalapenos, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsps. salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¾ cup green olives, sliced in half
- ½ tsp. each basil, oregano, salt, thyme
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine spices and salt in a small bowl.
- Rub the roast with oil all over then sprinkle the roast with spices and salt and rub well, ensuring that you cover all areas. Reserve leftover spice mix.
- Dissolve water and bouillon cubes in a roasting pan and pour in remaining spice blend.
- Place the roasting rack in the pan and add the meat and put a thermometer in the center of the roast.
- Place on the center rack of the oven and bake about 30-32 minutes per pound or until the thermometer reaches 140 degrees F. Ours took 1 hour and 37 minutes.
- Begin making the giardiniera (this can be made a day or two before) by bringing the 3 cups vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsps. salt, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to a boil. Add vegetables (no olives or spices) and boil only 3 minutes. No more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a bowl and add the olives and remaining seasonings. Mix together, then transfer to a 32 oz. mason jar. Pour in olive oil until vegetables are completely covered. Cover and refrigerate. It should last about a month in the fridge.
- About 10 minutes before the roast is done, butter bread loaves and heat a skillet on medium heat. Add the bread and toast. Set aside
- Once the roast reaches 140 degrees, remove from the oven and place the rack with meat on a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil for 15 minutes.
- Heat the 2 Tbsps. olive oil in the same skillet to toast the bread and add bell peppers. Saute until the desired tenderness is reached, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the foil from the meat and slice as thin as possible or to desired thickness.
- Place meat on toasted roll, top with pan juice and giardiniera and serve.