Italian Beef Recipe (For Chicago Transplants)

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I grew up in Chicago, the “City of Big Shoulders,” “The Windy City,” and the city of amazing eats.

Between deep dish pizza, and Italian Beef, I never realized how lucky I was as a kid until I found that these culinary jewels are hard to come-by outside of Chicagoland.

Being a “hacker chef,” I pretty much nailed the deep dish pizza recipe, to the point where I can make a Lou Malnati’s knockoff with my eyes closed, but Italian Beef was more challenging since the ingredients aren’t readily available elsewhere. For it to be “real,” for example, you need the right bread, and you must have real hot giardiniera, which I finally discovered can be ordered through Amazon!

If you don’t much care for this spicy condiment, you’ll have it easier, but as a native Chicagoan, I felt it was necessary.

The rest took a lot of experimentation (& a number of failed attempts), but I think I finally have (my version of) this legendary Chicago dish perfected.

Throughout my experiments, my goal was to match the taste of Portillo’s, the legendary Chicago sandwich chain. My wife had only tasted my experiments so far, so she was anxious to try “the real thing” when Portillo’s opened their first restaurant here in Southern California, a few years ago:

After a few bites, she politely said, “It’s really good, but yours is better.”

The ultimate compliment!

Without further adieu,  this is my recipe for Chicago-Style Italian Beef (and Chicago-Style Combo) sandwiches.