We live in a quiet neighborhood, with lots of trees, a nice street for walking and not much traffic. We also have some of the best neighbors you could ever ask for.
My friends the Millers, Jeff and Martha, and their daughter, Kaitlyn are the best kind of neighbors.
The Millers know how to neighbor. We stop and talk when we’re out walking. I can ask them to pick up my mail and water my garden when we’re out of town. When we bake, we share extras, and when someone’s sick, or there’s a crisis, there’s a warm meal to be shared. Food is, after all, one of the best and probably easiest ways to connect with friends.
Jeff is a big-hearted guy who loves to cook and to talk about good food.
Today, I’m sharing Chef Jeff’s Chicago-style Italian beef, as he cooked it for us in the summer of 2021.
Chef Jeff’s Italian Beef Recipe
Italian beef is bottom round roast stuffed with garlic and pepperoncini and bathed in the brine from the pepperoncini jar. Jeff roasts the beef until it’s tender, the meat is then sliced and piled high on hoagie rolls, topped with giardiniera and served to a happy crowd. This is a crowd-pleasing favorite. In fact, Jeff says he once cooked 50 pounds of meat for Italian beef sandwiches.
Give Jeff’s recipe a try. Make it on a Saturday when you have the time to prepare and cook the meat. You can freeze the leftover roast and make hearty beef sandwiches to pack for lunches or heat up for a weeknight dinner. You’ll also have plenty to share with neighbors.
Chicago Style Italian Beef Recipe
This is a perfectly imperfect recipe, which is my way of saying your mileage may vary. You can use a smaller cut of meat, and if you do, adjust the cooking time, checking the temperature of the meat until it registers 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare. You can carve the finished roast with a good sharp knife, but Chef Jeff recommends a meat slicer for uniform, thin slices.
7 pounds bottom round roast
2 heads of garlic, broken into cloves, peeled and sliced
2 (16 oz.) jars pepperoncini peppers, save the brine
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a roasting pan by lining it with foil.
- With a sharp knife, trim the fat off the roast. Plunge the knife into the roast and insert a pepperoncini pepper and a garlic clove in each cut. Take your time here. The idea is to infuse the meat with the peppers and garlic. When you’re through with one side, flip the roast over and repeat on the other side.
- Place the stuffed roast in the foil-lined pan and sprinkle fennel seeds all over. Pour the pepperoncini brine around the roast.
- You can put the meat in the oven and roast until medium rare. The seven-pound roast took 1 1/2 hours to reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare.
- Next, let the roast rest until it can be easily handled. You can slice it by hand with a sharp knife or use an electric slicer (very handy if you’ve got a big roast).
- To assemble the sandwiches: toast hoagie rolls and pile on the meat. Add the pan juices and giardiniera to make it your own.
Roasted Italian Beef Step-by-Step
Update: November 26, 2022
A friend called on Thanksgiving morning to say that Jeff passed away suddenly overnight. We were planning to celebrate the feast together that afternoon.
I remember this meal and how much Jeff enjoyed sharing his love of cooking. We laughed over his stories about working in the airline industry in the 80s and 90s. I regret that I didn’t make time to get more of his recipes, because they were gold.
Share your loves while you can, friends. And when you make Italian beef, raise a glass to Chef Jeff.