Italian Beef Sandwiches

Our dad was born and raised in Chicago, and one of our favorite traditions when we visit our family is to go to Portillo’s for their famous Italian beef sandwiches. We have great memories of doing this often with our grandpa and grandma – scrambling for a table, getting everyone’s order, our grandpa saying he only wanted half (but he wanted a whole sandwich), and the joy we all had scarfing down these delicious, messy sandwiches. When we have a hankering for an Italian beef sandwich, and haven’t thought enough in advance to order them frozen from Portillo’s, we make this and feel all the same nostalgia and joy as though we are in Chicago.

These sandwiches are a great football day main dish, and the star of our 2021 Super Bowl Menu. You can prepare the peppers and beef ahead of time and assemble the sandwiches last minute to serve. The best part of this recipe is that you can add and update the condiments however you like. We like our sandwiches served with provolone, giardiniera and a little extra jus for dipping. We can’t wait to hear how you like yours!

Italian Beef Sandwiches

  • Servings: 8-10 sandwiches
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An interpretation of our favorite Chicago subs!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 white onions, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 green peppers, sliced
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 3 lbs sliced roast beef
  • 8 french bread rolls
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • giardiniera (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, red pepper and green pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until the vegetables are fragrant.
  2. Add the beef broth, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and red chili flakes. Stir everything to combine and bring the broth to boil. Lower to simmer and simmer for 30 minutes so the vegetables are completely soft. **
  3. Separate the beef into individual slices and add the beef to the broth. Let the beef absorb the broth and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Prepare the sandwiches. Toast the french bread rolls and melt half a slice of provolone cheese on each side of the bread. Add beef, peppers and onions to the sandwich. Top with giardiniera or any of your favorite condiments. Serve with the cooking broth for dipping the sandwiches.
  5. ** At this point, you can turn off the heat until you are ready to serve the sandwiches. You can refrigerate the broth and reheat when you are ready to serve.



Braised Short Rib Stew With Cheesy Grits

We love braised short ribs in the winter; they are rich and hearty and the ultimate cold weather treat. They are not on our weekly menu very often because they take a long time to cook to get the meat fall off the bone tender. This really is a recipe for a cold weekend day when everyone is hanging around the house and you have the time to give this recipe some love. Each time we make short ribs we experiment with a variety of ingredients, but our favorite base recipe is a red wine braised short rib with lots of herbs like rosemary and thyme. We have braised the short ribs for four hours so that they are fall off the bone tender. We then like to shred them into bite sized pieces and add them back into the sauce that they were braised in. The result is a savory beef stew that is pretty much to die for. To make the final dish really over the top, we have served the stew over cheesy cheddar grits.

Braised Short Rib Stew

  • Servings: 4
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Winter comfort food at it’s finest. We love this stew on a cold day served over cheesy cheddar grits for a ‘stick to your ribs’ kind of dinner.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 5 lbs bone in short ribs, patted dry and seasoned well on all sides with salt and pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 whole carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stem fresh rosemary (approx 4 inches)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 14. 5 oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs of the olive oil and let it get nice and hot before adding the short ribs to the pot. Sear the short ribs for about 3 minutes per side on all sides, so that the short ribs are nice and brown. Remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tbs of olive oil and the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot. Caramelize for about 4 minutes before adding the garlic. Saute another 2-3 minutes, or until everything is starting to soften and is fragrant.
  3. Add the rosemary, thyme, and tomato paste to the pot. Cook everything for another 3-4 minutes- this helps concentrate the flavor of the tomato paste and give it a nice savory sweetness. Add the diced tomatoes, red wine, and 2 cups of chicken stock to the pot. Season with the salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Add the short ribs back into the pot, thick side down, and make sure that they are mostly submerged in the liquid. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover them, add additional stock until they are covered. Bring the liquid to a slow simmer, cover the pot, and cook the short ribs for 4 hours. You will be tempted to uncover the lid and peek at the short ribs but keep them covered!
  4. After the 4 hours has passed, remove the short ribs from the pot along with the rosemary and thyme sprigs. Tent the short ribs with foil to keep them warm. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and flour to form a roux – an equal mixture of butter and flour that will form a paste. Cook until the roux is a medium brown color. Add a big ladle of the short rib liquid to the roux and continuously stir to thicken the liquid and make sure that the roux is completely blended. Add the mixture to the rest of the short rib liquid and stir well to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil so that the flour cooks through. While the liquid is coming to a boil, shred the meat of the short ribs off their bones. Add the short rib meat back to the pot, stir to combine, and season with any additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot over mashed potatoes or grits.


Smoked Brisket on the Big Green Egg

With the exception of 2020, we usually host a big Friendsgiving sometime in November. We change the theme and menu from year to year, but we always have two staple dishes: fried turkey and smoked brisket. With no Friendsgiving on the docket this year and a hankering for brisket, we decided to make it this weekend for Hanukkah. If you are an “egg head” like we are, and into smoking meats, you know that cooking a giant brisket is a labor of love. The entire process from start to finish is close to 18 hours! This recipe is certainly time consuming but the results are more than worth it.

Smoked Brisket on the Big Green Egg

  • Servings: 12-14
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Our fool proof recipe for the best smoked brisket.

Ingredients

  • 1 brisket, somewhere between 12 and 14 lbs
  • salt and pepper
  • Big Green Egg starters
  • 1 large bag charcoal
  • 4 large pecan wood barbecue smoking chunks
  • 4 large hickory wood barbecue smoking chunks
  • barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Fill a medium bowl with water. Submerge the pecan and hickory wood chunks and let them soak for 30 minutes to one hour.
  2. Prepare the brisket. Use a meat carving knife to remove any thick or hard pieces of fat from the brisket and discard. Season all sides of the brisket liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. While the wood chunks are soaking, prepare the egg. Fill the egg with charcoal and light three Big Green Egg starters and scatter throughout the charcoal. Open both air vents at the top and bottom of the egg and let the grill heat up to somewhere between 300-325 degrees.
  4. Drain the hickory and pecan wood from the water. When the Egg has reached 300 degrees, add the smoking chips to the charcoal and prepare the Egg for indirect cooking. Let the Egg temperature rise back to 220 degrees for the duration of the smoking.
  5. Smoke the brisket fat side down for about 4 hours, flipping it to fat side up until the thickest part of the brisket has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Once the brisket has reached that temperature, cover it well on all sides with foil. Continue to cook at 220 degrees until the brisket has reached an internal temperature of 200 degrees.
  6. Once the brisket has reached 200 degrees, remove it from the Egg, wrap it in a few towels, and let it rest in a large cooler for anywhere from 1 hour up to 4 hours. Unwrap the brisket and slice it against the grain to serve. Serve with barbecue sauce, if desired.


Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

As the weather starts turning cooler, we find that we start craving warm and hearty meals. One of our favorite family meals is stuffed shells. There are so many different ways to customize a stuffed shells recipe; you can incorporate the protein of your choice or add vegetables to get your greens in. For this version, we have chosen to incorporate ground beef, pesto and ricotta. We love the flavor combination of pesto and ricotta. The pesto brings in an herby freshness and the ricotta adds creaminess and unctuousness to the dish. This recipe can be prepared in advance and baked just as your family or friends come over for dinner. Serve this with our Kale Salad: Autumn Edition and you have balanced, full dinner.

Pesto and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 2, 28oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbs salt

Ingredients for the Shells:

  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup basil, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce. In a large pot, sauté the ground beef until it is cooked through. Set aside in a bowl but do not drain the fat. Add the garlic and parsley and saute in the beef fat for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add the beef back into the sauce and keep on simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering, cook your shells according to package directions. When the shells are cooked to al dente, rinse them with cold water. You will want them to be cooled before stuff them.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Create the filling. Combine the ricotta, pesto, egg, basil and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in a large Ziploc bag and cut the tip off the corner of the bag. Use the bag to pipe the mixture into each shell.
  5. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with a layer of the sauce. Add the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in an even layer. Fill the rest of the dish with the sauce and top with the mozzarella. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.

Juicy Lucy Burgers

We were challenged by our good friend Allison at Sweet Then Savory to create a burger recipe in honor of National Burger Month – YAY FOR MAY! We love burgers and dining outside during these warmer nights and jumped on board for this challenge immediately. We decided for a more classic route on this burger but amped up our cheese game by making our burger a Juicy Lucy.  For those unfamiliar, a Juicy Lucy is a popular burger that was invented in Minnesota where the cheese is stuffed inside the burger. If you haven’t tried any of our recipes yet, this one is not to be missed. It is indulgent, juicy and the ultimate way to kick off summer. 

Juicy Lucy Burgers  
Makes: 4, 1/2 pound burgers
Prep Time: 10 minutes  Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients For the Burgers : 

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 8 oz block of cheddar cheese 

Additional Burger Toppings:

  • 4 hamburger buns 
  • Red onion, sliced 
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes on the vine, sliced 
  • Ketchup, mustard, and any other condiments of your choice 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your grill to high heat (about 500 degrees). 
  2. Combine the ground beef, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands (or a spoon if you are grossed out), blend the meat and seasonings together so the salt and pepper are mixed evenly through the mixture. Separate the meat into 4 evenly sized patties.
  3. Cut the cheese block in half and then quarter one half of the block so that you have 4 cubes of cheese. Form each burger patty with one cube of cheese in the center of the patty. 
  4. Once the grill is hot, add the burgers. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. After you flip the burger to cook on the other side, top with an additional slice of cheese during the last minute so it gets nice and melty.
  5. Add red onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, ketchup and anything else your burger craving needs. Put in all in a bun and enjoy.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Spinach Chimichurri

This recipe became an instant hit when we made it for a ski trip a few years ago. Ever since, it is frequently requested because it’s just so. darn. good. You can use any type of steak for this recipe, but we like skirt steak because it takes just a few minutes to cook per side and can go a long way if you’re trying to feed a crowd. The key to this recipe is the sauce- it would taste good on anything, including a tire or piece of shoe leather. 

We call this sauce a chimichurri, but it really is chimichurri inspired. A traditional Argentinian chimichurri uses parsley as it’s primary ingredient, not spinach. It is also more of a chopped herb sauce versus our blended version. We like the spinach because of it’s added added vitamins and minerals, and blending it all together will save you some time in the kitchen. Even though grill season is almost over, we promise you’ll want to enjoy this dish year round!   

Grilled Skirt Steak with Spinach Chimichurri 

Makes: 4 main course servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients For Steak: 

  • 1- 2 lb skirt steak, at room temperature for about 30 minutes  
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil 
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients For Chimichurri:

  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach  
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes 
  • zest and juice of one lime 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • salt and pepper, to taste  

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. 
  2. While the grill is heating, liberally season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Rub the vegetable oil on both sides to create a rub. 
  3. To make the chimichurri, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Blend to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the steak on the grill and cook for four minutes per side, closing the grill between flips. This will give you a medium-rare cook on the steak. 
  5. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes on a baking sheet or cutting board. You can lightly tent foil over the steak to keep it warm.
  6. Cut into thin, 1/2 inch slices against the grain. Drizzle with chimichurri to serve.