Italian beef and quick giardiniera

quick giardiniera

If you live in or have ever lived in Chicago, you know about an Italian beef sandwichs with giardiniera.  When I’m in Chicago I make a point of stopping by Portillo’s or Al’s Beef for an unbelievable sandwich of juicy, flavorful beef covered with olive oil and spicy pickled vegetables.  I just had to have something like that for dinner so I came up with this easy and frugal recipe.

I don’t know how Italian an Italian beef sandwich really is, but the classic Chicago Italian beef sandwich has paper-thin beef soaking in a thin, heavily seasoned gravy piled HIGH on a crusty-on-the-outside/soft-on-the-inside Italian roll.  The sandwich is then, optionally, piled high with a mix of spicy pickled vegetables in olive oil called giardiniera.

As usual, I really didn’t have the right ingredients for this, which might be a beef rump or cross-rib roast.  I did have a nice, inexpensive chuck roast so decided to make that work.  Let me tell you that it did work!  This is the best creation I’ve made in a while.  I’m also doing this low-carb thing to drop a few pounds (already dropped 12lbs!)  so passed on the roll.  Any kind of roll would do.  I would heat them in the oven for 10 min at about 350F and then slice just before piling with beef.  If you did have a rump or similar roast, I would cook it to rare, slice thin and then simmer in the sauce for about 15min.

Italian Beef

  • 1 chuck roast
  • 2t garlic powder
  • 2t onion powder
  • 1/2t thyme
  • 1T oregano
  • 1t red chile flakes (optional)
  • 1T salt
  • 1t black pepper
  • 2 cups (or 1 can) beef broth
  • 8 cloves of garlic minced (yes, eight!)
  • 2T Worstershire sauce
  • 1t tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
  • Crusty rolls

Mix up the spices and sprinkle 1/3 on the roast.  Set aside 1/3 for the giardiniera.  Brown the roast on both sides well in a dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except the rolls, duh!)  and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours on low heat, covered.  You want to roast easily slicable but not so tender that it falls apart.  You’ll need to check it periodically to make sure it doesn’t get too tender.  I think mine cooked in about 1 3/4 hours.  When it’s tender enough, take the roast out and let the sauce keep simmering to reduce a bit.  The sauce will be more like an au jus than a gravy.  Slice the roast as thin as you can and put it back in the sauce and turn off the heat.  Time to make the giardiniera.

Quick Giardiniera

  • 1/4 of a small onion, sliced thinly
  • 3T olive oil
  • 10 sport peppers or hot pickled peppers, chopped coarsely
  • 10 small pimento-stuffed olives,. chopped coarsley
  • 1T vinegar
  • 1/3 of the spice mixture above (hope you didn’t forget!)

Saute the onion in olive oil over low heat until just wilted.  Add the rest of the ingredients and turn off the heat.  Let cool and transfer to a bowl.

To assemble a sandwich, pile the beef on a hot, crusty roll and top with the giardiniera.  I put the beef into a bowl, added some sauce and topped with the giardiniera.

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