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4.58 from 14 votes

Portillo's Italian Beef Hack

Most major cities in the U.S. have a sandwich that locals proudly claim as their own. For Chicagoans that sandwich is the Italian Beef. Thin-sliced roast beef is dunked in herbed gravy to soak up the flavor, then it's stacked on a warm Italian sandwich roll and topped with sweet peppers or spicy hot Giardiniera. The recipe may seem like a simple one, but if any component of this iconic sandwich isn't faithful to the Chi-Town original, true beef fanatics will cry "foul" quicker than bleacher bums at Wrigley field.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Todd Wilbur

Ingredients

Gravy

  • 1/4 pound beef fat trimmings
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Knorr beef bouillon cubes (double-size cubes, or use 4 standard size)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of MSG

Rolls and Beef

  • 4 Turano, Gonnella, or Amoroso sandwich rolls
  • 1 pound roast beef, London broil or Italian style roast beef, sliced very thin

Optional Topping

  • Marconi hot giardiniera --or--
  • Cooked sweet peppers

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Render the beef fat by chopping it into small bits (about the size of peas) with a food processor. Be sure the fat is very cold--it will chop better. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop the fat by hand. Use a sharp knife and cut it as small as you can. Heat up the fat in a sauté pan over medium heat until the bits are browned. Strain the solids from the fat and measure 1/4 cup of fat for the gravy.
  • Make the beef gravy by combining all of the ingredients, including the beef fat, in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture begins to boil reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low.
  • Make the sandwiches by heating up the rolls in the hot oven for 3 minutes.
  • For each sandwich, drop 1/4 pound of sliced beef (separate the slices) into the gravy for 2 minutes. Make sure the gravy isn't boiling. It should be around 180 degrees F. After the beef has soaked in the gravy, use tongs to arrange the beef on a warmed sandwich roll and top with your choice of hot giardiniera or sweet peppers. Or both. Spoon on some extra gravy just before serving.

Notes

What other famous foods can be made at home? I've created recipes for over 1,100 iconic foods. Visit TopSecretRecipes.com to see if I've hacked your favorites.