Smoky Italian Beef

One of my favorite local restaurants, A Better Pizza, is a deep dish pizza joint. Its brash and opinionated owner, Craig, has as much distaste for St. Louis style thin crust pizza as I do and the man loves food from Chicago, his hometown.

On my recent visit there, I departed from ordering a spectacular deep dish pie. Instead, I ordered the Italian beef sandwich. It was amazing, the bread was wet, the meat was tender and all that flavor just ravaged my taste buds.

That sandwich inspired me to attempt my version of it on the grill. On this particular day, I was jonesin’ for an Italian beef sandwich and I was hoping to come close to ABP’s masterpiece with a hint of smoke.

Ingredients:
2.5lbs Beef round boneless sirloin tip roast
Italian beef rub
Beef broth/au jus*
Poppy seed rolls

*The au jus I made came from leftover liquid from a pot roast that my wife made me. I just filtered out all the scraps of veggies and meat with a fine mesh strainer. To thin out the au jus even more, I add some beef broth. The au jus was delicious! I wish I had the recipe to give but I don’t even know what’s in it!

Anyways, I rinsed off the lean roast in the sink and dried off with paper towels to have a clean surface for the rub.

Furthermore, since this cut is super lean, the roast will only be cooked to medium rare (approx. 135 degrees). Make the rub as follows:

The Rub:

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine all the herbs and mix well in a small bowl and start applying it on the beef. Cover the roast in the rub and wrap the beef in plastic wrap to keep the rub in contact with the meat. Let it sit at room temperature.

Afterwards, set up the grill for indirect heat (aka, 2-zone setup), grill temp around 325 degrees.

Place on grill

Place the roast on the grill and put the lid on with the vents wide open. Cook until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 130 degrees, about an hour.

After 45 minutes

The aroma of the herbs is amazing at this point. Take the beef off the grill and let it rest at room temp for 10 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle. Wrap the roast in heavy duty aluminum foil and place it in the fridge.

I left it in the fridge overnight, but a few hours are sufficient. I used my meat slicer to cut wafer thin slices of cold beef.

When the whole roast is sliced, I poured the au jus into a medium sized pot and set it on medium high for a few minutes until it’s hot.

I soak the sliced beef in the broth for 4-5 minutes. Use only the amount you wish to serve, otherwise the beef can get tough if you over cook it, the same can be said if you don’t soak long enough (the pictures below show it is slightly undercooked, but it was tender). A good indication of when to remove the beef is when it no longer looks pink and the edges start to curl.

I served the Italian beef on a bun, but they’re traditionally served on Italian bread. I avoided shaking off excess au jus because I want the bun to soak it up.

My Italian beef sandwich was absolutely delicious. I made a side of fried sweet potatoes, a nice complement of sweetness to the salty and smoky au jus.

The smoke from the briquettes was enough for the hour long cook. In addition, the au jus inherited that smokiness from the smoke infused Italian beef and in no way overpowered the sandwich.

As for left overs…I very much enjoyed an Italian beef sandwich topped with prepared horseradish…absolutely amazing. A shortcut to warm the beef is to nuke it soaking in the broth for 4-5 minutes.

Will my smoky Italian beef replace my local restaurant’s version?… no way! I like them both and one is a helluva lot easier to get in about 15 minutes as opposed to a few hours.

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