Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich
An Italian beef is a sandwich of thin slices of seasoned roast beef, dripping with meat juices, on a dense, long Italian-style roll. It is believed that this sandwich originated in Chicago, where its history dates back at least to the 1930s. The bread itself is often dipped (or double-dipped) into the juices the meat is cooked in, and the sandwich is typically topped off with Chicago-style giardiniera or sauteed, green Italian sweet peppers. Italian beef sandwiches can be found at most hot dog stands and small Italian-American restaurants throughout the city of Chicago and its suburbs.
Italian beef is made using cuts of beef from the sirloin butt or the top/bottom round wet-roasted in broth with garlic, oregano and spices until medium rare or medium. The roast is then cooled, shaved using a deli slicer, and then reintroduced to its reheated beef broth. The beef then sits in the broth, perhaps for hours. Once a sandwich is ordered, the beef is then drawn from the broth and placed directly on the bread. Because the meat is served dripping wet it is necessary to use a chewy bread, as a softer bread would disintegrate. The typical bread used is long, Italian style loaves without seeds sliced from six to eight inches in length. Italian beef can also be shredded instead of sliced.
Many retailers purchase pre-seasoned, pre-cooked, and pre-sliced Italian beef with separate cooking broth ("au jus"), and then heat and serve, while the most acclaimed Chicago beef places typically prepare the beef on their own premises according to their own recipes. Some produce their own homemade giardiniera as well.
There are different types of Chicago Italian beef sandwiches depending on various degrees of juiciness. Nomenclature varies from stand to stand, but wet or dipped means the bread is quickly dunked in the juice; juicy even wetter; and soaked is dripping wet. Most Chicago beef joints also offer a "combo," adding a grilled Italian sausage to the sandwich. Different eateries offer hot or mild sausage, or both.
Typical sandwiches are:Hot dipped: Hot dipped combo; Sweet dry; Gravy bread; Cheesy beef or cheef; Cheesy beef on garlic. Some order the "triple double," which consists of double cheese, double sausage and double beef. Other even less common variations include substituting Italian bread with a large croissant or topping with marinara sauce.
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Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich, www.amazingribs.com
Italian beef, en.wikipedia.org
Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich, www.foodnetwork.com