Italian Beef Sandwiches

The wife and I are enamored with our new Sunday treat, the Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich.

If you’re not familiar with this heavenly mess, think of it as the bastard offspring of a French dip and a Philly cheese steak. Watch this video for more information. There’s really no place locally to get these sandwiches, so I’ve been experimenting at home with my crock pot. There are several recipes online that have merit, and I’ve pieced them together to formulate my own method.

Slow-Cooked Italian Beef Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2.5 pound) sirloin or chuck roast (look for a roast with little fat)
  • 2 cans low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 2 (.7 ounce) packages dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each low-sodium soy and worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

  1. Rub the ground pepper on the meat and sear it in a pan over medium-high heat with the oil and butter. Don’t add any salt; there’s already enough in the sauce. While the meat is browning, combine the beef stock, 1 cup water, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salad dressing mix and soy/worcestershire sauce into a crock pot. When the meat is finished browning, add it to the pot.

  2. Thoroughly mix the cornstarch with the remaining cup of water. When the liquid is simmering, incorporate it into the sauce. This is the thickening agent. You want to add it early in the process so it cooks off the starchy taste. It won’t make the sauce as thick as a gravy, but it’ll make it thicker than a jus.
  3. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours. When you can easily poke through the meat with a wooden spoon, it’s done. Remove the meat from the crock pot and shred it with two forks. Try to remove as much gristle and fat as possible. Return the shredded meat to the crock pot to cook for an additional half hour or more to soak in the juices. You want the meat to stay in decent-sized chunks and strands, so don’t let it get too soft.

  4. Use a slotted spoon to serve the meat on toasted hoagies. Top with your choice of pepperoncini, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and sliced provolone cheese.

Purists would argue that the roast beef should be sliced instead of shredded. They’d be right, but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t own a mechanical slicer and this recipe tastes just as good.

Note: The jus will taste way too salty and spicy throughout the cooking process. But after the meat is shredded and the sandwiches are prepped, it will all come together perfectly. Trust me. I usually open the hoagies, toast them, and then add some provolone while the bread is still under the broiler. The thin layer of cheese helps to keep the bun from getting too soggy too fast. Still, I like my sandwiches a little messy, so I spoon on some extra sauce. My wife eats hers with a fork.

If you’re wondering about the side dish is in the picture above, it’s my Sweet & Spicy Cole Slaw.

Italian Beef Sandwiches
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