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Here’s the Beef!… Italian Beef!

written by Becki Ashby, CRS
Lexington, SC      beckiashby@gmail.com   
Feb 4, 2021

There are some recipes that are so good, so easy, and so versatile that they last through the ages. They are tried and true, tasty and satisfying, and there for you when you need them most. There is a splattered copy in that ratty old recipe folder of yours, but you know it so well that, like a Jedi chef, you could instinctively make it with your eyes closed. One such recipe for me is the Zesty and Scrumptious Italian Beef, and you may just decide to add it to your folder too! 

Feeding a large crowd? …No problem! Houseguests rolling into town sometime between 5 and 7? …No problem! Exhausted at the thought of standing at the stove for hours making dinner? …Forget about it! This Italian Beef recipe is easy to make in any quantity, cooks and stays ready to serve in a handy crock pot, and only takes a tiny bit of prep work to make. You could literally walk away from it for eight hours, stir it up, then serve. And did I say it is sooooo good too?!

Here’s what you need for THE BEST Italian Beef: Chuck roast, Good Season’s Zesty Italian dressing mix, beer, jarred banana peppers, crusty rolls, white onions, and vinegar. Mustard optional. Ketchup, hush your mouth. (But that tastes good too, so I certainly won’t tell!) And of course, you will need your trusty crock pot. Here are the specifics:

ZESTY ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES

When I make Italian Beef, it is absolutely going to be enough to serve a small army and still have leftovers. (Some people have nightmares about not being ready for a final exam. I have nightmares about running out of Italian Beef.) If you don’t want this much and you hate leftovers, adjust accordingly! This recipe would easily serve 15 people.

Ingredients:

  • 2 beef chuck roasts (Costco has an awesome 2-pack, approx 6 lbs total)
  • 12 oz beer (you may feel weird cracking one of these open at 8am)
  • 4+ packets of Good Season’s Zesty Italian Dressing Mix (Rule of thumb = 1 packet per 1.5 lbs of meat and round up to next whole)
  • 1 medium size jar of sliced banana peppers, and half of the juice
  • Chicago rolls or sub rolls from the bakery (I like them crusty— they need to stand up to the juiciness, so not too soft)
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced into rings
  • White vinegar (approximately 1.5 cups)

Instructions:

-     Place roast(s) in the crock pot and pour beer over. Sprinkle the dressing mix over, coating all sides, though not all will stick. You can add the banana peppers and juice now if you are leaving this all day or wait until there are two hours left in cooking time. Set temperature to low if thawed, high if frozen.

-     Very important next step in preparation: Place sliced onions in a dish and generously soak in white vinegar. Cover and store in fridge all day while the beef is cooking. Don’t forget to pull this out as a topping when serving the beef. Even people who do not like onions say that these are awesome and help make this sandwich so unique and delicious!

-     You will need 8+ hours cooking time on the low setting. If meat is frozen, start with 3-4 hours on high, then switch to low for another 5+ hours. You will know you are getting close to ready when the meat easily shreds with a fork. I like to give it at least another hour in the crock pot after I shred it.

-     You will see a LOT of liquid in the crock pot, from the beer, juice, and meat juices. Fear not. When you shred the meat, somehow the liquid just gets all soaked in. If you do still have too much, just take some out before serving, but reserve in case needed after more time in the crock pot. (The dogs will love you if you add it to their dinner though. Speaking from experience.) Also, with a chuck roast you will see some obvious large portions of fat. Remove anything that disturbs you. A round roast has less fat and will still get super tender, but the texture and flavor may not be quite as scrumptious.

-     Slice your crusty rolls, baguettes, or sub rolls as needed, ready for self-serve, and don’t forget the onions, and mustard/ketch-up options. But the flavor is great without the condiments!

And that is all! I hope you and your family and friends enjoy this tried and true favorite of mine!

 

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