Monday Night Football, September 27, 2010
Bears 20 - Packers 17
It's a rivalry you group up with in Chicago, and the intensity of the rivalry has only increased in the last couple decades. Bears-Packers. This past Monday was the 180th meeting of these two teams. 180. Think about that you Carolina Panther fans.
Anyway, we had just completed the massive homecoming menu, weren't in the mood for a lot of cooking on Monday, but DID have some steak left over. So I came up with the idea of slicing up the steak and putting it into a Chicago style Italian beef sandwich (often pronunciated as "sangwitch" by the local denizens).
The biggest problem was that we weren't cooking the beef, we already had cooked steaks. So the delicious juices that help create the sauce for the beef sandwiches wasn't going to develop. I went ahead and made a decent sauce with beef stock, red wine and a couple dried herbs. Why dried? Well, trust me, those sangwitch shops are not gourmet outposts. And I wanted to get as close as I could to the real thing, given my previously mentioned limitations.
The next thing I considered was toppings. There are two Chicago style approaches, roughly.
- Hot - which means Giardiniera, a spicy mix of peppers, onion, cauliflower and other vegetables.
- Sweet - which implies pan roasted bell peppers. Usually green, sometimes green and red.
I had some Giardiniera on hand, but Margie and the kids would probably pass on the spicy version. In fact, most of them would pass on the sweet version too, but whatever. So I went "High End Sweet", and slowly cooked onion, garlic and fennel with red, orange and green peppers. I added a few fennel seeds, dried oregano (bowing to local tradition) and hot pepper flakes. It looked like this, and was delicious.
Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
(I swear, this is the first time I've recommended two dried herbs. But, we're trying to stay authentic-like)
Salt and Pepper to taste
--- Bring sauce ingredients to a boil in a small sauce pan, then simmer while making peppers.
Peppers and Fennel
1 small red onion, sliced
1 bulb fresh fennel, white parts, sliced thinly
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 orange or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (again, an homage)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and fresh ground pepper
--- Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat
--- Add onion and fennel and cook for 5-6 minutes
--- Add remaining ingredients, cook for 5-6 minutes
--- Lower heat to medium-low or low.
--- Cook for 5-6 more minutes, or until peppers are soft, but have not changed colors.
1 pound of thinly sliced steak or roast beef (don't forget, this recipe was a way to use leftovers). I'll publish a "real" Italian Beef recipe someday too.
8 thick sandwich rolls
--- Add beef to sauce and let sit over low heat to warm through.
--- To serve, use tongs to place beef into sliced rolls. The rolls CANNOT EVER be toasted, just in case anyone from outside Chicago gets any crazy ideas.
--- Spoon additional sauce over the sangwitch to make it as "dry" or "wet" as you prefer.
--- Top with a generous portion of mixed peppers and onions.