Hot Italian Beef Sandwiches
This recipe has been on a regular rotation at our house for over 20 years. It is simple, versatile and, of course, delicious! The ingredients are not complicated. Most of the cooking process is hands off. Leftovers are as good as the first taste. Seriously, you need to add these Italian Beef Sandwiches to your rotation too!
When a Recipe Catches Your Attention
In this picture are five, spiral-bound “A Taste of the Country” cookbooks. They were a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law many years ago. It was a gesture that overwhelmed me as I would have been thrilled with just one of them. She had these cookbooks and I would sit and copy recipe after recipe when we would visit. If I would ask her for the recipe of something she had made for us, she would often say “It’s from those cookbooks!” There are sticky-tabs, asterisks by favorite recipes in the index and one of the books has lost its binding coil completely. Yes, there are a few splatters on the pages. Despite my neat-freak nature, it happens.
In the picture above, one of the books is open to the photo page for “Hot Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches”. This image enticed me to try the recipe. I have made this so many times over the years, including once for the 30th anniversary celebration for my mother-in-law and father-in-law.
Submitted to the “A Taste of the Country” cookbook collection, this recipe came from a woman named Betty Claycomb of Pennsylvania. I have modified her recipe a little over the years but she deserves all the credit. So here’s to you, Betty. My family and friends thank you for sharing your recipes.
Choosing A Roast
My personal recommendation for this recipe is the boneless top sirloin. Because it is a thinner cut, the braising liquid and seasonings permeate the meat more evenly and it shreds easily. It is generally a bit more expensive. Any beef roast can be used in this recipe. A chuck roast works well. The larger, less expensive roasts often have more marbling which adds great flavor during the cooking process but you will want to remove those “pockets” before serving. Here is a good article explaining the differences in the cuts. If you are using a thicker roast, consider cutting it in half to better distribute the browning and braising flavors.
This recipe calls for a three pound roast. There are simple modifications to make a bigger (up to five pounds) or smaller (no less than two pounds) roast.
Time is the first adjustment. In general, figure one hour of time in the oven per pound of roast. It may be ready 30 minutes earlier or take an extra 30 minutes, depending on the type of roast and what kind of pan you are using (metal, cast iron, etc.).
The amount of braising liquid is the second. If using a smaller roast or the slow cooker method, do not change the amount of the other ingredients. If braising a larger roast in the oven, increase the other ingredients by half. For example, increase the diced tomatoes from 30 ounces to 45. It really isn’t that fussy but the roast needs the liquid to keep it tender during the braising process.
Whether you choose to braise the roast in the oven or take advantage of a slow cooker, the results will be delicious. I would highly recommend browning the roast as directed regardless. This step intensifies the flavors and sears the juices into the meat.
Make It A Sandwich
Our favorite way to build our Hot Italian Beef Sandwiches is to start with a toasted ciabatta loaf that has been drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and then rubbed with fresh garlic. Provolone cheese melts easily on or under the hot meat. I am obsessed with Chicago-Style Italian Sandwich Mix (Hot Giardiniera), shown in the picture. It is a pickled mix of vegetables with a kick. Consider any form of pickled pepper like Peperoncini or roasted red peppers.
A simple arugula salad makes a perfect side dish.
Plan for Leftovers
Do not be afraid to make a three pound roast if you aren’t serving a family or guests. The leftovers are amazing! Freeze what’s left in smaller portions to revisit these sandwiches at a later date. Or turn the leftovers into a delicious soup by adding more tomatoes, beef broth and vegetables (carrots, celery, peas, potatoes, green beans, etc.). Pizza night will never be the same after you try Hot Italian Beef Pizza made with the leftover meat, some roasted red peppers or Peperoncini, and Provolone or Mozzarella cheese.
Hot Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 pounds beef roast boneless top sirloin or chuck
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 garlic clove(s) minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme or several sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoons dried basil
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1 large onion sliced
- 28-30 ounces petite diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup water
- Semi-hard rolls ciabatta rolls, hoagies, sourdough bread, or focaccia bread
- Provolone Cheese Slices
- Peperoncini optional
- Gardiniera optional
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a dutch oven, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat.
- Sprinkle all sides of roast with salt and pepper. Place roast in the dutch oven and brown on all sides.
- Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, basil, crushed red pepper and onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and water.
- Cover and braise in the oven for 3 hours. Check the roast after two hours. Add more liquid (e.g. water, tomato juice, beef broth) if needed to keep the roast partially immersed. The roast is ready when it can be easily shredded with forks.
- Remove from oven. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs (if using fresh) from broth and discard. Trim off any excess fat and shred the roast.
- Serve on rolls with Provolone cheese, Peperoncini and/or Giardiniera.
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