Few Chicagoans make this sandwich at home—why buy a professional-grade meat slicer when there’s a beef stand in every neighborhood? So I had a hard time tracking down a recipe when I moved to New York City. Finally, an old high-school classmate responded to my Facebook plea with a photo of a stained index card titled “Italian Beef—Aunt Tammy.” Aunt Tammy’s meat-slicer workaround involves a rump roast, a slow cooker, and some fork-shredding. Our adaptation calls for sirloin, thinly sliced in advance by your butcher, then quickly poached in the juice.
Featured in: The 2020 Saveur 100: 51-63
- 2 Tbsp. rendered beef fat (or olive oil)
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
- 6 cups low-sodium beef stock
- 2 0.7-oz. packets Italian salad-dressing mix
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp. chile flakes
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 2-3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 4 Italian- or French-style rolls (about 6 in. long)
- 2 lb. boneless sirloin steak, thinly sliced on the bias
- 2 cups hot giardiniera relish, drained
- In a medium pot, over medium heat, cook the beef fat (or olive oil) until it shimmers, then add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds more, then add the beef stock, Italian salad-dressing mix, basil, black pepper, chile flakes, oregano, and parsley. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until reduced by a third, 30-40 minutes. Season to taste with the Worcestershire sauce, if using, and maintain a low simmer.
- Meanwhile, split the rolls in half lengthwise, leaving one side intact, and place on a large rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
- Pull the steak slices apart and divide into 4 equal batches. Working with 1 batch at a time, use tongs to dunk the meat into the juice, swirling gently to quickly poach the meat, 1-2 minutes, before nestling the batch inside one of the split rolls. Repeat with the other 3 steak batches and rolls. To serve “wet,” ladle a generous amount of juice over the beef. To serve “dipped,” use tongs to quickly dunk the entire sandwich into the juice. To make a sandwich “hot,” top the beef with giardiniera to taste.