Italian beef

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Italian beef
ItalianBeef.jpg
Italian beef, as served by Portillo's in Chicago.
Origin
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateChicago
Creator(s)Multiple claims
Details
TypeSandwich
Main ingredient(s)Roast beef, Italian-style roll
VariationsMultiple
 
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Italian beef
ItalianBeef.jpg
Italian beef, as served by Portillo's in Chicago.
Origin
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateChicago
Creator(s)Multiple claims
Details
TypeSandwich
Main ingredient(s)Roast beef, Italian-style roll
VariationsMultiple

An Italian beef is a sandwich of thin slices of seasoned roast beef, dripping with meat juices, on a dense, long Italian-style roll, which originated in Chicago where its history dates back at least to the 1930s.[1] 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 (called "hot") or sauteed, green Italian sweet peppers (called "sweet").

Italian beef sandwiches can be found at most hot dog stands and small Italian-American restaurants throughout the city of Chicago and its suburbs. They are difficult to find outside of Illinois. However, Chicago expatriates have opened restaurants across the country serving Italian beef, Chicago-style hot dogs, and other foods original to the Chicago area.

Contents

Preparation

Italian beef is made using cuts of beef from the sirloil rear 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,[2] 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.

Origins

Origins of the sandwich are disputed, but one early vendor, Al's No. 1 Italian Beef, opened its first stand in 1938.[1]

One story has it that the Italian Beef sandwich was started by Italian immigrants who worked for the old Union Stock Yards. They often would bring home some of the tougher, less desirable cuts of beef sold by the company. To make the meat more palatable, it was slow-roasted to make it more tender, then slow-simmered in a spicy broth for flavor. Both the roasting and the broth used Italian-style spices and herbs. The meat was then thinly sliced across the grain and stuffed into fresh Italian bread.

According to Scala's Original Beef and Sausage Company (formed in 1925), this meal was originally introduced at weddings and banquets where the meat was sliced thinly so there would be enough to feed all the guests. It rapidly grew in popularity and eventually became one of Chicago's most famous ethnic foods: the original Italian beef sandwich.[3]

By 1954, a local restaurant was advertising its "Pizza, Spaghetti, Ravioli, [and] Italian Beef Sandwiches" in the Chicago Tribune.[4]

Variations

There are varying degrees of juiciness, depending on taste. 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 beef orders are:

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.

In the media

The Italian beef sandwich was featured in a late 2008 episode of the Travel Channel's Man v. Food, when host Adam Richman (who focused his restaurant visits on Chicago in that episode) visited Al's No. 1 Italian Beef to try the signature sandwich and learn the "Italian stance" that is used when eating it.

The sandwich was mentioned in the 1999 History Channel documentary American Eats: History on a Bun as an example of the specialty sandwiches found in different cities in the United States. Chris Pacelli, owner of Al's No. 1 Italian Beef, is shown demonstrating how to eat the sandwich with the "Italian stance."

Al's Beef was also featured on Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America in 2012, where Richman declared the Italian beef sandwich the best sandwich in the Midwest.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Zeldes, Leah A (2002-09-30). "How to Eat Like a Chicagoan". Chicago's Restaurant Guide (Chicago's Restaurant Guide). Archived from the original on 2002-10-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20021001023605/www.chicagorestaurant.com/show_article.php?aID=13. Retrieved 2002-09-30.
  2. ^ "Italian Beef Pizza | abc7chicago.com". Abclocal.go.com. 2011-02-12. http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources/lifestyle_community/food/recipes&id=7953643. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  3. ^ Scala's Beef history
  4. ^ "Barsanti's Grill" advertisement. Chicago Tribune. November 14, 1954. p 3-8.
  5. ^ "Sandwiches". Chicagojoes.net. http://www.chicagojoes.net/sandwiches1.htm. Retrieved 2011-07-10.

External links

Media related to Italian beef sandwiches at Wikimedia Commons