Monday, December 5, 2011


'Beef dipped hot'. That's my order at the beef stand.  That's an Italian Beef Sandwich with hot peppers, dipped into the beef jus.  Sometimes I go for just wet, depending on how long I know that particular joint soaks their delicious Turano or Gonnella roll, but I always order the hot peppers.  Which really means giardiniera.  And if you say 'sweet', you'll just get strips of green bell pepper.  That's not recommended.  And for hells sake, don't get cheese on it.  Here's all the details to order like a professional.

In Chicago, Portillo's or Al's is my preference.  Johnnie's I've never been to, Mr. Beef is okay, Bryon's is okay.  Buona is for the parents who live in the suburbs and miss Al's or Mr. Beef.  My favorite is actually 4 blocks from the house I grew up in, a local place that's been there since I was a 9 yr old customer saving his change for beef sammiches.

The 2011 pepper harvest.  Picked at their peak, the long growing season in Chicago brought to an end before the chilly fall nights.  Miles traveled to my board- 0.0075758.  The chile de arbol are the thin red and green ones, those will  be dried for chili spice; the large green are bells, the big long ones are anaheims, the small long ones I forget what I planted, to add some heat we got jalapenos and habaneros.  I added a couple more habaneros than pictured here.  It's not necessary to have homegrown veg, your favorite purveyor of fresh, organic stuff is fine.  Don't forget to wear gloves,  if you don't have any make sure you wash your hands, board, and knives about 6 times and don't touch anything you deem important to eyesight or reproduction. 

serves-depends, below is good start for a few jars' worth, adjust accordingly

2 bell peppers, cored and diced
4 serrano peppers, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, cored and diced
1 habanero, small ones thinly sliced, large diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 large rib celery, diced
1/3 head of cauliflower, stems removed and diced
1/2 C kosher salt
cold, clean water
2 ts Italian seasoning, or oregano
1/2 ts chili flake
1/4 ts black pepper
1/2 C canola oil
1/2 C white vinegar

Add all veggies to a large bowl and cover with clean, cold water.  Add the salt and stir to mix, then let sit for at least 12 hours, up to 24.  Drain and rise well.  Split evenly among used mustard, olive, or other clean condiment jars.  In a small bowl, add the seasonings and vinegar.  Slowly whisk in the canola oil, then pour evenly among your jars, each jar should be as full as possible.

It will take at least 3-4 days until the flavor comes through, 10-12 days is when it really starts to sing.  A jar will last at least a few months.  The oil and vinegar will separate after a short time, and that is okay.  When serving, use a slotted spoon or let most of the liquid run off before adding to pizza, a burger, sandwich,'s not just for beefs.  And with a bow, this would make a great Christmas's the perfect time to get those elves to work.

Want the full history of the Italian beef?

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