Ever watch the Food Wars shows? I don't know if they're still airing or not, but we watched a few of them. There was one episode in particular that featured two restaurants that claimed to have the best Italian beef sandwiches. The Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich features thinly sliced beef and spicy Giardiniera, which is pickled vegetables. The meat is stuffed into a sandwich roll, topped with the Giardiniera, and then the au jus that the meat was cooked in is spooned over the whole thing or sometimes the whole sandwich gets dipped in the au jus.
Now, I've never been to Chicago and I don't have a trip planned anytime soon. While my sandwich may not be an exact replica and wasn't cooked in the traditional way, it is a pretty good sandwich. And I cooked it in the crockpot which made it a really easy meal. I did make the Giardiniera homemade, but you can buy it in the jar. Also, whenever I need beef stock for a recipe, I use the beef bouillon paste in a jar. It has a much richer, beefier flavor than the broth or stock in a box. And, of course, you know me. I just had to put cheese on my sandwich.
Time to eat!
ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES
3 lb chuck roast
1 packet Italian dressing mix (I used Good Seasons Zesty Italian)
2 C chopped Giardiniera (click for recipe)
4 C beef stock
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
Salt & pepper, to taste
Swiss cheese (optional)
More Giardiniera for the sandwich (optional)
Put the roast, Italian dressing mix, chopped Giardiniera, beef stock, garlic cloves, and salt and pepper into a crockpot. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until tender. When the beef is ready, remove it from the crockpot and shred it when cool enough to handle. Strain the juice (au jus) and reserve it for dipping the sandwiches in it.
To assemble the sandwiches, split the rolls open and place a slice of the Swiss cheese in each (if desired). Melt the cheese under the broiler. Put some of the roast into the roll and top with additional Giardiniera. You can either spoon the au jus over the sandwiches or dip the sandwiches in the au jus.