When I first moved to Chicago from CA, I had never had, or even heard of, an Italian beef sandwich. Can you imagine living in such a state of ignorance and oblivion? Luckily for me, I soon discovered all of the impossibly delicious and fattening foods of the Midwest - the Italian beef, the bratwurst, the stuffed pizza....
I combined a couple of versions of this recipe to get this right. I wanted it to be as authentic as possible.
1 boneless beef roast (top sirloin or round), about 3 pounds
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
4 cups of beef stock
2 cups of water
2 beef bouillon cubes
Italian style sandwich rolls
Mozzarella or provolone cheese
Giardiniera (if desired)
Roasted bell peppers (if desired)
Place roast in crockpot and add seasonings. Cover with water and beef stock. Cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork, then place shredded meat back into the sauce, and leave on warm.
Apparently you can also make this recipe in the oven and then use a meat slicer to slice the meat. I think this would be more authentic, as the meat for an Italian beef is usually cut in really thin deli style slices. When prepared in a crockpot like this, the meat comes out with a pulled pork or brisket-like texture. However, the flavors are a perfect match and though I was worried about the texture at first, it made no discernible different in the taste of the sandwich. So, I've decided I don't need to invest in a giant meat slicer!
To serve the sandwich, toast your buns (this is very important, as these sandwiches are meant to be juicy, and you don't want your bun to be too soggy). Fill each toasted bun with the meat, being sure to get some of the sauce with each spoonful. Next, using tongs, dip the sandwich once in the sauce.
I like to add cheese, which turns this into a "cheezy beef". You can do this using your oven or microwave, whichever you prefer. Simply add either shredded mozzarella or slices of provolone, and then quickly heat to melt. Finally, top with giardiniera and/or bell peppers, if desired, and serve. I personally love giardiniera, and if you are not familiar with it, I recommend trying it on this sandwich - the spicy, tangy flavor of the giardiniera pairs perfectly with the flavors of the Italian style beef. It's a match made in heaven!
Here's a website I came across that has a lot of info about the history and preparation of Italian Beef sandwiches - Recipe Website
Tips - I don't usually do regular bell peppers on my sandwich, it just isn't my thing, but a lot of people like it that way. To prepare them, simply slice a green and/or red bell pepper into long strips (remove seeds and membrane) and sautee in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!