Many big cities in the U.S. will claim to have a sandwich to call their own, and for Chicagoans it's the Italian Beef Sandwich. In my Slow Cooker Italian Beef recipe, the tangy and tender meat cooks all day. Shredded and heaped onto hoagie rolls with the spicy toppings creates an unbeatable sandwich!
The Italian beef sandwich dates back to the Great Depression when Al Ferrari and his sister and brother-in-law developed the idea and the recipe.
Since meat was very scarce then, in order to make the most of what they had, they would slice the meat very thin and load it on the freshly baked Italian bread.
The family sold these delicious sandwiches at a food stand in Chicago's "Little Italy" neighborhood until they opened their current location of Al's Beef on West Taylor Street.
What is an Italian Beef Sandwich?
So what is the big whoop about the Italian beef sandwich? For those who are not familiar with the affection that many of us feel for this iconic sandwich, let me describe the goodness!
This recipe is a variation of the original Italian beef sandwich. The original Italian sandwich is made with thin slices of beef. Slow cooking results in tender shredded beef.
Cook the meat in a crock-pot for hours. Fill your kitchen with the smells of an autumn dinner.
Each sandwich starts with a warm and crunchy Italian roll. Load it with the tender, slow cooked beef and add a few spoonfuls of the flavorful and aromatic "au jus."
The delicious sandwich is then topped with a mild or spicy pickled vegetable relish called Giardiniera. Another topping you could choose to add is roasted green pepper.
So with just a few simple ingredients, this Italian beef recipe will be one of your favorites. Serve on game day, at a tailgate party, a potluck, buffet, or for any meal! I cut them in small sandwiches and served them at my Chicago Little Italy Gr8 Dinner Party.
More Gr8 Slow Cooker Recipes to try!
- Taco Tuesdays are delisioso with these Carnitas!
- Have you ever tried Tikka Masala?
- Add some beans to your plate!
- Soups on!
- Start your ribs in the slow cooker!
Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches
- 6-quart slow cooker
- 3 lb chuck roast or rump roast
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 small beef bouillon cubes
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 16 ounce jar deli-sliced mild pepper rings with juice, or pepperoncini rings, with juice, divided. I like Mezzetta brand. (*See Gr8 Notes below)
- 6 hoagie rolls or Italian rolls
- 1 16 ounce jar Giardiniera , mild or hot, I like Marconi brand.
- Green bell peppers, roasted, sliced, optional (**See Gr8 Notes below)
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet and brown the roast on both sides. Place the roast in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Mix all the seasonings together and sprinkle over the meat.
- Dissolve bouillon cubes in hot water and stir. Pour over the meat and seasonings.
- Add ¼ cup of the deli-sliced pepper rings on top of the meat. (You will have extra peppers to use on the side or save the jar with the peppers and juice to use at a later time.)
- Add 3 Tablespoons of the juice from the jar of deli-sliced pepper rings to the pot.
- Cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low 8-9 hours or until beef is very tender.
- Shred the beef with a fork (discard the fat) and place back in the cooking juices.
- Stir to combine and allow to cook for another 15 minutes on low.
- Stack the shredded beef high on the sliced rolls. Add some of the cooking juice to the sandwich. Top the beef with the Giardiniera or roasted bell peppers.