The Best Cut Of Steak For An Italian Beef Sandwich

If you just finished watching FX's "The Bear," you might have found yourself dealing with some strong cravings. For some people, those cravings are for actor Jeremy Allen White's lead character Carmy. On the other hand, the show's alluring images of sizzling beef and colorful giardiniera might have you yearning to try one of Chicago's signature Italian beef sandwiches.

According to Parade, a classic Chicago Italian beef usually consists of the simple combination of sliced, seasoned roast beef served in a roll and topped with giardinera (a blend of pickled vegetables), before being dipped back into the beef's juices (au jus). Eater says that some of the best variations of Italian beef sandwiches can also be found at Chicago restaurants like All Too Well, Al's Italian Beef, The Original Nana's Hot Dogs, and Portillo's. Time Out Chicago claims that Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park serves up the "platonic ideal of an Italian beef sandwich" for those looking to try out the sandwich's paradigm form. 

Much like the city's popular deep dish pizzas and veggie-loaded hot dogs, there's a lot to know and love about this popular Chicago sandwich.

Chuck roast is the classic choice

One of the key qualities that makes the Italian beef sandwich unique is the type of meat that is used. According to NPR, the sandwich was invented by Italian immigrants in the early part of the 20th century. Many couldn't afford — or wouldn't even be offered — the finer cuts of meat, and were left with only the tougher sections of the cow instead. According to Well Plated, the classic cut of beef used in the sandwich is a chuck roast. This section usually comes from the cow's forequarters, which tend to be tougher and have more sinew and bone than meat and fat.

To work around the toughness, the early pioneers of the dish decided to slow-cook the meat in its own juices instead (via NPR). This left the meat a tender, shredded cut of delicate beef. It also got more flavor from the addition of Italian seasoning added to the slow simmering beef. Well Plated notes that top sirloin, top round, or bottom round can also be used, but a true Chicago-style Italian beef is going to be made with the chuck roast. Food Network chef and Chicago native Jeff Mauro uses the chuck roast in his recipe as well.