Italian Beef: Chicago’s Favorite Sandwich, unlike Any Other
The sandwich, which has its roots in the stockyards, gambling dens, and weddings of the city, has become a symbol of Chicago itself.
Chicago is known for its unique cuisine, especially its deep-dish lasagna pizza. This city has its own way of doing things, which is probably due to its location in the middle of the country or the lack of respect it gets as the “second city.”
If you want to fit in with the locals, you’ll never ask for extra ketchup that sells Chicago-style hot dogs. Suppose you happen to be passing by and only know the city’s cultures and traditions casually. In that case, you might have little to no knowledge at all about Italian beef, the last element of the Chicago food holy trinity.
The Main Ingredients of Italian Beef
It is made with thin slices of seasoned roast beef, often with herbs like oregano and basil, on a long French roll. Giardiniera or roasted green peppers may also be added to the sandwich.
Italian beef is a type of roast beef cooked in its own juices, giving it a unique flavor. The beef is thinly sliced and then soaked in the juices for a while before it is served. Many people have tried to find shortcuts to this process, but there is no perfect substitute for the traditional process.
A Quick History of the Italian Beef
Italian beef is a dish with a disputed origin, but its popularity in the Windy City can be traced back to Italian immigrants in the early 20th century.
Chicago was the world’s center for beef and pork processing in the 1800s and early 1900s, thanks to the Union Stock Yards. This meant that many workers would bring home tougher, lower-quality cuts of meat that were perfect for roasting.
It’s unclear who first came up with the idea of cooking beef thinly and serving it as a sandwich, but it became a popular dish on the “peanut wedding circuit” in the 1920s. This circuit was composed of Italian-American weddings where the goal was to cheaply serve as many guests as possible. Anthony Ferrari and Pasquale Scala (both of whom sold food on the streets of Chicago at the time) are credited with realizing that thinly sliced beef would be a perfect dish for these weddings.
Two prominent families in Chicago created the beef prep method that would come to be known as Italian beef. The Ferrari family and the Scala family both played a role in making the dish a Chicago staple. Al Ferrari opened Al’s #1 Italian Beef in the 1950s, and Scala Packing Company has been supplying the beef for the sandwich since 1925. Both families have benefited from their involvement in the dish.
Ordering Italian Beef
When it comes to ordering Italian beef, there is no one right way to do it. Just like with the Philly Cheesesteak, there are a variety of ways you can customize your sandwich. You can choose what kind of cheese you want (if any), whether or not you want onions, and so on.
Portillo’s, a major Chicago-area restaurant, does a great job of explaining the options. You can choose how much gravy you want and how it will be served. Some people like their Italian beef sandwiches dipped in gravy, while others prefer a dry sandwich with as little gravy as possible.
Chicago is a great American food city, and Italian beef is just one of the many things it has to offer. It’s a symbol of Chicago’s heritage, history, and character. The sandwich has many variations, but the most popular version consists of a long French roll, thinly sliced roast beef, and sweet peppers.
The beef is cooked in a pot of its own juices, giving it a unique flavor and making it a must-try for locals and tourists.
If you are looking for a great gyro spot in Chesterton, IN, look no further than our delectable menu here at George’s Gyros Spot. We serve Chicago dogs, Italian beef, gyros, polish dogs, and cheeseburgers. Check out our menu online and order our freshly-made gyros, perfectly cooked and prepared with quality in mind!