serves: 16 sandwiches
Chicago is the birthplace of this sandwich, and Al’s “#1 Italian Beef Sandwich” claims to be the best. The last time I was there, there was a line, and the outside tables were full of people munching on the beef sandwich. However, I think the recipe below will give you a sandwich much closer to what the Italian American immigrants were and still are making for their families. The Italian beef sandwich seems to have its roots in Italian weddings and celebrations as a frugal way to offer meat. The boneless beef rump, an otherwise tough piece of beef, when marinated, roasted, and cut into thin slices, and then topped with lots of Italian- style vegetables, went a long way served as a sandwich. This recipe makes enough for a crowd, or you could halve the recipe and feed a smaller group. That will be a problem if you just want a sandwich for yourself, but I think the only true way to get this sandwich to be as good as it can be is to make it from a whole rump roast. You can always enjoy the leftovers later.
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4½ pound boneless beef rump roast
2 cups dry red wine
4 medium onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 6-inch sub rolls or lengths of Italian bread
4 stalks celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
4 bell peppers (red and green), sliced 3/4 inch thick
6-8 pickled hot cherry peppers, stemmed
Mix together 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, and the dried thyme in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the beef, and put the meat in a large resealable bag. Combine wine, 1 sliced
onion, and the garlic, and pour this marinade over the meat. Seal tightly, and let marinate in the refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the meat from the bag, and rub with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the meat and the marinade in a large pan, and roast, uncovered, until tender and the meat is pink in the middle, about 11⁄₂ hours, fl ipping the meat once during cooking. Remove, and let the meat rest 15 minutes before slicing, reserving the cooking juices in the pan. Slide the sliced rolls into the oven to toast slightly as the oven cools down.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet, and toss in the remaining onions and the celery. Sauté until the onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and remaining dried oregano. Stir the bell peppers and the hot cherry peppers into the onions, and cover the skillet to cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Slice the meat, against the grain, as thinly as possible. (Use a meat slicer if you have one.) When the peppers are tender, add the sliced meat to the skillet, along with any juices left in the roasting pan. Cook until the meat is just heated through, about 3 or 4 minutes. Serve meat with peppers and onions, on the toasted rolls.