This video features the iconic Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich that is being sold in hundreds of locations in and around Chicago as well as neighboring states. This sandwich is unique to Chicago and also qualifies as a regional Chicago specialty. Not all, but most places that sell these also sell the classic Chicago Hot Dog. Unlike the Chicago dog, the ingredients for this beef sandwich are much easier to buy and/or make yourself. A good example of some flexibility you might have is that different Chicago restaurants that sell this sandwich don’t necessarily use the same ingredients. They all don’t use the same giardiniera, same beef juice, same sandwich rolls, or the same cuts of beef. However, the common denominators among the Italian Beef Sandwich vendors is that they all start with very thinly sliced roast beef, they all offer mild or hot giardiniera, they all make a decent beef juice concoction for steeping, dipping or moistening the beef or sandwich and they all offer cooked sweet green bell pepper strips as an optional topping. To a small degree there’s some individual preparation flexibility among the operators that sell these but they all adhere to the common denominators that I’ve pointed out here. In other words, like the Chicago Dog – the public self-regulates the consistency of how this sandwich is basically prepared throughout the city and neighboring states. The public has developed and demands that a reasonable expectation(s) of consistency be met by the food service operators whenever this sandwich is ordered for purchase.
It’s worth noting that there are a few UNVERIFIABLE claims as to who and where this sandwich was invented or discovered by. However, we do have a couple of UNDISPUTED facts about the origins of the “French Dip” sandwich, which can be verified as originating out of two different restaurants in Los Angeles between 1908 and 1918. The “French Dip” sandwich also consists of thin sliced roast beef served in a fresh soft French roll/bread and is also served dipped or “wet”. Coincidence? The Chicago Italian Beef sandwich was supposedly introduced to Chicago sometime in the vicinity of 1925. Given the 1925 assumption, it’s quite possible that the Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich was actually a copied and spun version of the well known LA French Dip, which was very popular at that time. I’m sure that the iconic Chicago Beef vendors would dispute that assumption or possibility as they lay claim to the creativity of their ancestors. I guess we’ll just never know, will we? One thing I do know. I love this sandwich.
If necessary, Amazon.com is also a good source for a Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich “kit” that is listed under Vienna Beef.