PREP TIME: 20 mins | COOK TIME: 10 hrs | SERVINGS: 6 LARGE SANDWICHES (6-12 SERVINGS)
My friend asked me what I felt when I first tasted this Italian Sandwich. I told her, it’s life-changing and she burst into laughter! Well, I am not kidding. The ultimately juicy beef that sipped all the flavour as it cooks and seasoned to perfection topped with my favourite toppings is like a dream come true. My life has changed with that single bite!
6 hoagie rolls
12 thin slices of provolone cheese or 6 regular
1 16 ounces jar mild pepperoncini peppers/sliced pepper rings
jarred roasted red peppers patted dry optional
SLOW COOKER ITALIAN BEEF:
3-5 pounds beef chuck roast trimmed of excess fat
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 14.5 ounces can low sodium beef broth
1 c. Coke (Not diet)
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp dried minced onions
1 tbsp beef bouillon
2 teaspoons EACH dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon EACH salt, pepper, dried thyme
1/3 c. pepperoncini juice (from pepperoncini jar listed above)
HOW TO MAKE CROCKPOT ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES
Step 1: In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, sear the meat until both sides are brown. Place the seared meat in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir in the rest of the roast ingredients, cover, and set on low. Cook for 8 to 10 hours or 4 to 6 hours on high until the roast is fork-tender.
Step 2: Shred the roast and discard the excess fat. Cook further on low heat for 30 minutes more. This way the roast will absorb some of the juices.
Step 3: In the meantime, prepare the oven. Preheat it to 400 degrees F.
Step 4: On a large baking tray, lay the sliced rolls cut side up. Place in the preheated oven and toast the buns for about 5 minutes.
Step 5: Pile the bottom sides of the buns with meat using tongs. Top with your favourite toppings like pepperoncini, roasted bell peppers, giardiniera etc., then cheese. Fold the slice of cheese in half if using thinly sliced cheese and use 2 slices on each hoagie. Or a single slice per hoagie if using traditional slices. So the cheese fits the shape of the bun, slice it in half.
Step 6: Place in the oven again, making sure to leave both tops and bottoms cut side up. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese has fully melted.
Step 7: Enjoy immediately with the rest of the liquid as a dip, if desired.
Optional but highly recommended. Serve the Italian Beef Sandwich with the jus (juice) as a dip. First, separate the fat from the jus. Pour the juice into a fat separator with a spout or in a freezer bag. If using a freezer bag to separate the fat from the juice. Place the bag in the fridge to cool it a little, then add the slow cooker juices to it. Let the fat separate to the top and seal the bag. Holding the bag over a bowl, one bottom corner tip facing down, make a small cut to allow the liquid to flow.
To store: Place the cooked Italian Beef in an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. And enjoy it straight from the fridge.
To make this ahead: Prep until the beef is cooked up to shredding. Let the beef cool completely and store it in the fridge. The next day, skim off all the hardened fat fist, then cook for an hour or two in a slow cooker on low heat. Shred the beef and let it soak for at least 30 minutes, then continue to cook as instructed above.
To reheat: Remember to save some of the juices when planning to reheat so the beef won’t dry out. Place the beef in the crockpot along with some of the jus and heat for about 1 to 2 hours on low. Alternately, you can reheat on the stovetop. Simply put the beef with some jus to a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Or pop in the microwave for about 60 seconds, stirring after, and if needed, heat for 30-second intervals.
To freeze: Place the completely cooled beef in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag with some of the juices. Remove the excess air, label the bag, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the slow cooker, microwave, or stove.