Clasped between thick bread slices and dripping with jus, these Italian-beef sandwiches are a hearty Chicago classic
About Al's Italian Beef
It was 1938, and America was still in the throes of the Great Depression. To make his already-well-loved roast beef last longer, sandwich-smith Al Ferrari began to slice it extra thin. Clasped between thick italian bread and dripping with gravy, Al's first sandwiches were sold in the neighborhood food stand he co-owned with his sister and her husband. Later, they opened their first eatery in Chicago's Little Italy, where they also served hot dogs, fresh cut fries, and italian and polish sausages.
The popularity of these italian-beef sandwiches has grown exponentially, and today, franchises have popped up across the country, still using the same recipe that was created in Al's kitchen all those years ago.
So what goes into Chicago's favorite sandwich?
Al's Italian Beef sources its french rolls from Gonella Baking Co. Hearty enough to soak up gravy without falling apart, yet soft enough to remain pleasantly toothsome, the pillowy bread is the basis for each and every italian beef.
If you request "sweet" peppers, expect bright-green slivers of house-roasted bell peppers. An order of "hot" peppers tops sandwiches with giardiniera, celery, and bell peppers soaked in a secret seasoning blend that includes garlic and crushed red pepper. Both bring out the meat's natural flavors.
The kitchen roasts top sirloin, then slices it so thin, you could wear it as sunglasses. It still remains flavorful and juicy.
This is no thanksgiving gravy, but an aromatic jus made from the roasting juices and another secret blend of spices. How much of the gravy you'd like is up to you: "regular" means the meat is swished through the gravy before it's put on the bun; "wet" sees the gravy ladled over the bread; "dipped" means the entire sandwich is dunked into the pot.
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