I hail from Chicago and every time I go home for a visit, a stop for an Italian beef sandwich is always a must, dipped in juices and loaded with hot peppers. I hear New Orleans also has a pretty good hot beef sandwich, called a Po’ Boy (or po-boy, or po boy). The main difference is how you dress it, and to a lesser degree, the cut of beef. This recipe fits the bill for either sandwich, I think. Put out all the fixings’ and dress it how you like. The beef comes together overnight in the slow cooker and the next day, voilà ~ Italian Beef Po’ Boys.
I first had this version of Italian beef at my sister-in-law’s, she made it for a graduation party. Everyone loved it, including my kids, and Paula shared the recipe with me. I’ve made it several times, including for my oldest daughter’s high school graduation party. Quite a few people have asked me for the recipe over the years, everyone loves it! And it’s so easy.
The beef slow cooks overnight in Italian dressing and Au Jus seasoning packets, a little salt and pepper and water. The next morning, just shred the beef, defat the juices/gravy, put the beef back in the juices and you’re all set to go.
I like Italian beef on French bread cut and split into rolls, crusty with a light and airy crumb, not the dense baguette type of bread. Soft hoagie rolls work, and so do hamburger type buns, especially for a crowd. People can serve themselves and dress as they like.
So, I like hot peppers on my Italian beef, specifically a hot giardiniera that’s popular in Chicago. You can find it in the grocery store, in the pickles section. I usually also put out milder banana pepper rings, and sometimes I sauté up some sweet green and/or red bell peppers. Point is, put out some peppers! And we also like provolone cheese, which I usually pop in the oven to melt on the sandwich, as well as crisp up the roll a bit. Put some cheese out and let people put on their sandwich if they want.
Peppers and juices spooned over the beef is definitely the Chicago-style way, but you can also dress these hot sandwiches with shredded romaine lettuce, onion, pickles and mayo. Yep, mayo. In fact, I put a swipe of mayo on mine last time I made this. So, that would be more the NOLA way of doing things ~ a hot beef po’ boy. No right or wrong way here, however you top it is up to you!
Italian Beef Po’ Boys ~ perfect for a crowd, on a buffet table for a party, or just for a family dinner. Aunt Paula has never steered us wrong, just ask my kids! They also love her biscuits and gravy and my mother-in-law’s German Potato Salad. This is how I’ve always grown my cooking repertoire, by adding recipes from family and friends that are delicious, and then passing them on to others. Hope you like these sandwiches, too.
Italian Beef Po' Boys
- 7 lbs boneless beef chuck roast
- 2 .7-oz envelopes Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
- 2 1-oz envelopes Au Jus gravy mix
- 1 tbsp Lawry's seasoned salt
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups water
- Toppings for serving, such as: hot and/or sweet peppers, provolone cheese, mayo, mustard, shredded lettuce, sliced onions, pickle slices
- Cut beef into large chunks, trimming away any large pieces of fat. Place in a slow cooker.
- In a bowl, whisk together seasoning packets, seasoned salt, black pepper and water.
- Pour liquid mixture over beef and toss gently to combine. Cook on low setting overnight (for 8-10 hours).
- Remove meat to cutting board and using two forks, shred meat. Skim fat from juices in slow cooker, return meat to juices and combine. Keep on low , or transfer to a dutch oven to reheat and serve. Serve on buns or rolls with plenty of optional toppings.
- You can keep the beef in the slow cooker on warm for serving, especially on a buffet table for a party.
- I cut back on the seasoning salt a bit because I find it a little too salty, but that said, no one else thinks it's too salty.
- For a crowd, buns or hoagie rolls work best. Or you can cut a soft and light French bread into 3- to 4-inch sections.
- I'm going to guess you'll get any where from 18 to 24 sandwiches, maybe even more, it depends on the size and how much meat people pile on!!
- If you like cheese, I suggest making the sandwich with beef and cheese and popping in the oven to melt the cheese, then add more toppings, as desired.