Portillo’s Italian Beef – A Taste of Chicago History

It’s impossible to walk down the street in Chicago and not be tempted by the fragrance of Portillo’s Italian beef. This iconic sandwich has been an integral part of the culinary landscape for decades and has developed a cult following in the Windy City.

The dish, which gets its flavor from a blend of savory, slow-cooked beef and a variety of herbs and spices, has undergone many different variations since it was first served around World War II. Even though the traditional recipe is simple – the secret is in the execution.

This recipe is a tribute to the classic Italian beef sandwich. It’s a hearty dish that’s perfect for feeding a crowd and a great way to share a little piece of Chicago history.


• 3 lbs of roast beef
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 onions, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
• 2 tablespoons dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 cups beef broth
• 4 rolls of Italian bread
• 4 slices Provolone cheese
• 1 jar of giardiniera (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast beef and brown for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, oregano, pepper flakes, and black pepper and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the beef broth, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
5. Remove the roast beef from the skillet and shred with two forks. Return the shredded beef to the skillet and cook until the sauce is thickened and the beef is very tender, about 45 minutes.
6. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
7. Grill the Italian bread until toasted on both sides.
8. Assemble the sandwiches by layering the beef, cheese and giardiniera on each roll.
9. Enjoy!

From the flavorful seasonings to the gentle simmer on the stovetop, this dish faithfully captures the essence of the famous Italian beef sandwich. Whether you’re a local in Chicago or just visiting, give this recipe a try and feel the city’s history in every bite.