Italian Beef

Discussion in 'Sous Vide Cooking' started by actech, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. Took an eye of round. On sale 2.99 lb. Gave quick seat on grill. Vacuum sealed with Italian seasoning and jar of pepperoncini (stems removed). Set at 135 about 14 hrs. Took out of bag and sliced on slicer. Put back in bag, added beef stock more seasoning and pepperoncini juice. Set at 140*. Can’t say how long as I got called to go get a deer. (Lil button buck. Should be tasty ) Made an awesome sandwich. Greta texture on meat. Not wrinkled and dry.

    Attached Files:

    motocrash likes this.
  2. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    I grew up five blocks from the Johnnies Italian beef joint (it's located in Elmwood Park, a suburb of Chicago). I have spent the past six years trying to recreate their recipe, so far without much success. I have even done mail order from some of their competitors (Johnnies doesn't ship), in order to refresh my memory of what it should taste like (although their competitors' beef is not quite the same).

    If anyone has a complete, reasonably authentic, Chicago-style Italian Beef recipe, I would pay good money for it.

    BTW, here is a short video, showing Johnnies. I found it really interesting because of the brief glimpse into the kitchen where they actually make the beef. I had read all sorts of preparation tips, like roasting it, and then recombining that with the juice. Well, as you'll see if you go to the 2:10 mark of this video, that is not how they do it. Therefore, sous vide, or even a slow cooker, should do a pretty good job of replicating their technique (I like the idea of sous vide because it should do a better job of concentrating the oregano and garlic flavors).

    Someone who knows their cuts of beef should be able to tell us what cut we are looking at.

    Here's the closest I have been able to come, but it still isn't quite right.

    "Johnnies" Italian Beef
    3½ pound beef roast (the OP's choice of Eye of Round is probably even better)
    ½ peeled bulb garlic (either cut up and put in roast, or puree)
    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    1 tablespoon oregano (or more)
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    2 teaspoons sweet paprika
    2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
    ½ teaspoon sea salt

    ¼-½ jar (16 oz) Pepperoncini peppers, with juice
    24 ounces beef stock

    I have tried it using garlic powder, but didn't like the result. I've tried various beef stocks, but am quite certain I don't yet have the right product. I have mashed the garlic and rubbed it all over, and I have simply studded the roast with garlic. I have used more oregano (I don't think it is possible to use too much).

    I am getting a little closer, but the garlic and beef stock are the two main things that I don't think are quite right.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    actech likes this.
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    That is some good looking beef!
    Nicely done!
    Rings Я Us likes this.
  4. Rings Я Us

    Rings Я Us Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Your persistence will pay off..
    I'm sure your enjoying the trial cooks a bunch ..:cool:
    Nice work.
  5. zwiller

    zwiller Smoke Blower

    Nice looking sandwich!

    @johnmeyer: good recipe for italian beef in this:
    Their dip looks awfully light. I'd say chicken stock. Also, I really like kicking up umami in beef dishes. I find that msg (accent) really adds a restaurant/pro taste to beef.
  6. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Wow, thanks for that cookbook link. While I need another cookbook like I need the proverbial hole in the head (I have 100+ cookbooks), that one is very, very tempting. I see from the Amazon description that it not only has a recipe for Chicago-style Italian beef, but also a recipe for Uno/Due's deep-dish pizza, another one I've tried to make (Salernos back when it was in its original place in Berwyn, back in the 60s, had a deep dish pizza that was even more amazing).

    Also thank you for reminding me about adding MSG. I had seen that tip elsewhere and have forgotten to try it.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  7. troutman

    troutman Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    If it ain't Geno's East, it ain't. As to Johnnie's, they have a secret ingredient, they could reveal it to ya but then they'd have to kill ya !! :) Seriously though, it's hard to replicate, at least what's in your mind, as being the best thing you ever ate. Know what I mean?
  8. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit

    Been paying attention to Papa Bears posts have ya.Never had one or set foot in crookedleftymobsterland.Regardless it looks delicious ac!
  9. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Hey, I grew up in the town where the "outfit" bosses lived (Tony Acardo). Nice folks, although the son of Giancana's wheelman use to beat me up regularly.

    We never had any crime, whatsoever.

    Ah, yes, that's one of my favorite posts about Italian beef. I too got my temperatures from that. I have a cheap portable induction cooktop that has a rough temperature control on it. I use that to keep the gravy from getting too hot when heating the sliced beef.

    Thanks for reminding me about that page; it was good to re-read it.
  10. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit

    I'm sorry if anything I said is inaccurate or untrue.
  11. braz

    braz Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

  12. zwiller

    zwiller Smoke Blower

    The Pizza Bible temps and technique are basically the same. Main difference is the roast is covered in a spice rub and broiled prior to braising. No beef stock in gravy and I think that's where most go wrong. Beef stock is too bold. PB gravy is water, tomato paste, salt, and onion. Most guys wimp out but putting a good char on beef is a must. My house smelled incredible during the broil... Definitely rest overnight prior to shaving and I MEAN SHAVE. I wouldn't even bother making it without one honestly. That said, I found a work around for Philly steaks: thin blade for food processor and par frozen meat but not sure if that will cut it as a shave.
  13. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    I think Philly sandwiches are a different animal. I believe the meat for those sandwiches is sautéed and chopped on a big iron flat. I don't think any juice or stock is involved. Even though Philly sandwiches were not common in Chicago when I grew up there in the 50s and 60s, I've had them and love them. I find them much easier to make. Cook's Illustrated has a recipe that works quite well.

    That video I posted earlier in this thread which shows the Italian Beef cooking technique at Johnnies is, for me, a key piece of information needed to unlock the secrets to getting the Italian beef recipe to work. It is quite clear that they are braising, not roasting, and that any char or brown is simply what happens on the portions of the meat above the liquid. It does not look like they are browning or charring or roasting the meat.
  14. zwiller

    zwiller Smoke Blower

    Sorry for going OT with Philly's and agree a whole other animal (both cow tho right LOL). I was just offering a poor man's method for thin slicing.

    Do consider that what you are seeing in the video is after the broiling and the roasts are being braised faced down into the gravy. Am I nuts but the video shows a few roasts are pretty dark for a braise? One last thing, the pizza book spice quantity is far larger than yours. 5-6lb roast: 6TBSP spices.
  15. troutman

    troutman Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I went to school in Illinois with the son of Sam (aka Momo) Giancana. All I remember was he was a spoiled, party animal....
  16. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Giancana lived in Oak Park. I went to high school there. Was that your school?
  17. troutman

    troutman Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    No we met down at Western Illinois U back in the late 60's, early 70's.
  18. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Ah yes, college, not high school.
  19. dls1

    dls1 Smoking Fanatic


    If you're referring to the same Sam (Momo) Giancana that lived on South Wenonah in Oak Park that johnmeyer mentioned, he had no sons. Just 3 daughters, Antoinette, Francine, and Bonnie.

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