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Italian beef

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An Italian beef is a sandwich of thin slices of seasoned roast beef, dripping with meat juices, on a dense, long Italian-style roll, believed to have originated in Chicago, where its history dates back at least to the 1930s.

Left: Italian beef, as served in Chicago.

The bread itself is often dipped (or double-dipped) into the juices the meat is cooked in, and the sandwich is typically topped off with Chicago-style giardiniera (called "hot") or sauteed, green Italian sweet peppers (called "sweet").

Italian beef sandwiches can be found at most hot dog stands and small Italian-American restaurants throughout the city of Chicago and its suburbs.

Italian beef is made using cuts of beef from the sirloin butt (Scala's) or the top/bottom round wet-roasted in broth with garlic, oregano and spices until medium rare or medium. The roast is then cooled, shaved using a deli slicer, and then served dripping wet after a reintroduction to its reheated beef broth; hence the need to use a chewy bread, as a softer bread would disintegrate.

Many retailers purchase pre-seasoned, pre-cooked, and pre-sliced Italian beef with separate cooking broth ("au jus"), and then heat and serve, while the most acclaimed Chicago beef places typically prepare the beef on their own premises according to their own recipes. Some produce their own homemade giardiniera (an Italian or Italian-American relish of pickled vegetables in vinegar or oil), too.


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