Our family originally hails from Southern Illinois, which has the odd mix of a Midwest sensibility with a definite Southern flair. Influenced by St. Louis and Chicago and Memphis and Louisville, "Little Egypt" as it's sometimes known combines Yankee and Antebellum cultures with ease. Now that you know that little bit of regional background, it won't sound so odd when I tell you that our family serves this classic Chicago dish with the unabashed Southern staple of Cheese Grits. It's a perfect marriage of flavors and textures.
Back to the meat though.
The smell of it cooking all afternoon will draw people in to the kitchen like moths to a porch light. You can cook it a day ahead of time and let it steep in it's juices overnight, you can throw it in a slow cooker and let it simmer all day. No matter how you cook it, it takes very little effort to prepare which makes it a fantastic meal to serve a crowd.
If you've never had an Italian Beef sandwich there's really only one proper way to eat it. You start by ladling the meat and plenty of juices on a thick white, kaiser roll. Horseradish and banana peppers optional. Then you take a bite, letting the juices run down your chin. That's it. No knife or fork just plenty of napkins and people to share it with.
- Recently we've been using Tri-Tip to make this dish, and find it a little more tender.
- You can cut the crushed red pepper in half (to 1 teaspoon) if you prefer a milder flavor.
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 package dried onion soup mix (like Lipton's or Knorr)
3 cups water
Place roast in a large Dutch oven and sprinkle seasonings and soup mix over it. Add water to pot and cover with lid. Bake at 325 degrees for 4 hours, basting occasionally. Slice meat thin and serve with juices for sandwiches.