Italian Beef

My mom has this great recipe for Italian beef that we’ve enjoyed for years.  As with all recipes though, I wondered “what would make this better?”  Now, improving on mom’s cooking is a delicate matter (go ahead, ask her!) so I wholly admit that her version is rock-star.  What I love about this recipe is that you can make it ahead and easily put it in the oven for a family gathering without having to go through a lot of fuss.

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ITALIAN BEEF

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs. Top Sirloin Roast
  • 8 Whole Garlic Gloves, Peeled
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs. Dried Italian Herbs

For The Au Jus

  • 1 Envelope Dry Italian Dressing Mix
  • 1 Envelope Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Tie roast with 4-5 rings of cooking twine to hold together.  Place in a shallow roasting pan.
  • Make eight slits in the top of the roast and put a clove of garlic in each slit.
  • Rub roast with olive oil and then sprinkle with Italian herbs.
  • Place in oven and roast for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees.
  • Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to cool completely.
  • Place roast in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Using a very sharp knife or meat slicer, cut cold roast beef into 1/4-inch slices.  Garlic pieces will fall out as you slice it – keep them!
  • Place sliced beef and garlic in an oven-safe baking dish.  Shallow is better.
  • In a medium bowl, combine au jus ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour over sliced beef.  Cover with foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour until beef is warmed through.  You can also put this back in the fridge and store for up to two days before baking and serving.
  • Serve immediately after baking.

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We typically enjoy this rich bold beef on ciabatta rolls with a slice of provolone cheese and a little horseradish and wow, are they good!  You’re going to want to pour some of that wonderful au jus on that roll to soak in and give you an exceptional bite every time!  Try dressing it up in a sandwich with giardiniera or sautéed mushrooms and onions – the possibilities are endless.  It’s an awesome main dish for a buffet too, everyone loved it on Easter Sunday.  Give this one a try and let me know what variations you come up with, I’d love to hear your ideas.  Dig in!

Goose Island Four Star Pils

I’ve been broadening my horizons with lighter beers lately.  Be it this crazy warm summer or the fact that IPA’s give me heartburn now that I’m over 40, I have had a lot of great varieties of beer lately.  A great pilsner isn’t always easy to find so I was pretty excited to try the new Four Star Pils from Goose Island Brewery.  This golden brew is light, crisp and still taste like a real beer!  You can dress it up in a glass, but it’s perfect for shoving a six pack into a bucket of ice and spending an evening on the patio.  What I love is that they’ve used a combination of American and German hops to give it a depth of flavor beyond your typical pilsner.

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Try this great one with your favorite chicken or fish cooked on the grill.  I’ll wager that your favorite white wine drinker (AKA wife) will actually find this a great alternative to the vino.  I could go on and on about the other beers I love from Goose Island, but you can check out their website for the full list at gooseisland.com.  Crack open a little taste of Chicago and enjoy the last month of summer!

Sable Kitchen & Bar – Chicago

If you’re looking for inspired craft cocktails and delicious small and medium plates, I have a place for you!  On my trip to Chicago last week I had a chance to eat at Sable Kitchen & Bar after a few cocktails at The Berkshire Room.  I figured after a few great bourbons, I was going to need to follow up with the same caliber of cocktails.  Thankfully, Sable is just a block and a half away.  The cocktail menu here is vast, creative and intriguing.  Think of your favorite bourbon or gin elevated with combinations of ingredients like tarragon syrup, cola bitters, cinnamon-infused pear brandy and caraway liqueur.  I loved the Wheatley Convention Center, a blend of Buffalo Trace bourbon, averna (an Italian citrus liqueur), vanilla, Lemon Wetherby’s cola bitters and angostura bitters – smooth and sweet with a brightness from the citrus.

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I love the food menu here as well.  Executive Chef Lawrence Latrero knows what he’s doing in this kitchen!  There are a handful of selections in each category of snacks, seafood, meats and veggies.  The lobster rangoon were perfectly crisp outside and creamy inside.  We also really enjoyed the flatbread with asparagus, mushroom and truffle, but anything with truffles is a no-brainer for me.  Being a meat-lover I really appreciated the Wagyu beef sliders.  Tomato jam, garlic aioli, cheddar and a quail egg make these anything other than your typical slider.  They were so good that we ordered two and had to order two more right away!

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If you save yourself any room, I would highly suggest the churro ice cream sandwich with brandied apples – whoa!!

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Honestly, you can do no wrong here.  Everything was well-executed and definitely has me ready to come back to try more!  If you’re in Chicago, get to River North and check them out.  Detailed info and menus can be found on their website sablechicago.com.

The Berkshire Room – Chicago

I travel to Chicago for business – a lot.  Needless to say, there’s no shortage of fantastic places for dinner and drinks.  Sometimes though, you need somewhere a little less busy and a little less pretentious to enjoy a craft cocktail and nosh a few snacks to unwind.  I found the perfect place a few years ago in The Berkshire Room and have made it a regular stop ever since.

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Located in the River North area just around the intersection of Ohio and State (that alone should indicate it’s awesomeness) this small lounge is on the first floor of the ACME Hotel.  The interior is just dark enough and is a great mix of Prohibition-cool and modern style.  There’s a decent selection of beers and ample wine choices, but this is a cocktail lounge.  They are true mixologists here creating interesting craft cocktails with a selection of bourbons, gins and liqueurs.  Think Willy Wonka with booze to get an accurate picture here.  This week I stuck with a simple Bulleit Rye Old Fashioned – OK, maybe two!

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There’s a limited selection of small plates and desserts for accompanying your drinks, but the true gems are the cocktails.  Try the “Dealers Choice” – you pick the liquor, the flavor profile (sweet, savory, herbaceous, etc.) and the glassware and the mixologist creates something on a whim for you.  Great for happy hour or after dinner, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this place!  Check them out at theberkshireroom.com.