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29 10 2008
A box of authentic Chicago-style eats from Lou Malnatis

A box of authentic Chicago-style eats from Lou Malnati's

I got a package from UPS today that could quite possibly the most absolutely perfect gift ever!  I know I bitch a lot on this blog about not being able to find some of the foods I love the most in Mid-Michigan.  I also realize I made the choice to move to Michigan, so I really should just keep my mouth shut and enjoy the regional cuisines that Lansing has to offer.

My girlfriend’s mom (who lives in the south suburbs of Chicago) noticed I have to get an Italian beef everytime I go to Chicago, so she decided to make sure I could have that taste of Chicago right here in Lansing. 

If you’re at all familiar with the Chicago pizza scene, you’ve probably heard of Lou Malnati’s.  Lou’s is one of the big Chicago pizza places.  It’s not my favorite of the Chicago pizza joints, but I do enjoy their take on the Chicago-style pizza. 

Not only is Lou Malnati’s a pizza joint, but they are a retail hub for some of Chicago’s biggest names in food.  Their website, Tastes of Chicago, offers “nationwide shipping of all your Windy City favorites.”  Just opening the catalog makes my mouth water.  They offer their pizzas, Portillos Italian beef, Vienna Beef hot dogs, Carson’s Ribs, Eli’s Cheesecakes, Garrett Popcorn, Manny’s Corned Beef, Hackney’s Hamburgers and Wildfire Steaks.  That list is a who’s who of Chicago greats.

After a delivery snafu in which my package was taken to the complex office instead of delivered to me, we got a 32 lb. box of food.  I was shocked when I opened.  Inside where 2 lbs of Italian beef, two big buckets of gravy, hot gairdiniera, roasted sweet peppers, and eight Italian rolls along with two pizzas (one cheese and one sausage).  There was enough beef to feed me for a week. 

Everything you need to make an Italian beef

Everything you need to make an Italian beef

You know I couldn’t wait.  Everything was frozen and I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to thaw out, so I threw one package of beef under some hot water to thaw it out.  I got the gravy somewhat thawed before just giving up and throwing it in the pan.  I figured it would melt eventually.  There are instructions included on how to cook your beef to make sure you get that authentic Chicago flavor.  I followed along and heated the gravy to 180 degrees then threw in enough pieces of beef for two sandwiches.  Meanwhile, I had a couple buns warming up in the oven. 

The deal with Italian beef is all in the bun.  It’s crucial to toast the bun because when you build the sandwich, you’re going to drip the gravy on it.  The toasting keeps the bread crunchy even if it’s soggy.

After letting the beef warm up for a couple minutes, I started to assemble.  Ideally, I would have slices of mozzarella that I would put in the bun first, but I only had shredded so the beef went in first.  I then topped each sandwich with the mozzarella.  The grilled onions and gairdiniera would normally go on top, but I prefer my beef without them.  I spooned on a lot of the gravy….a lot.  Most places will ask if you want the sandwich dipped or dry.  When ordering at a restaurant, I usually go with dipped, but I didn’t want to make the mess in my kitchen, so I spooned on just enough to make the sandwich soggy.

The gravy warming up to 180 degrees

The gravy warming up to 180 degrees

The finished Italian beef...only available in Chicago

The finished Italian beef...only available in Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could have sworn I just made a run to Portillos when I took that first bite.  For two minutes while I inhaled the sandwiches, I was back in Chicago. It’s nuts just how much these sandwiches tasted like what I crave from Chicago.  All the ingredients are from Portillo’s, but I still can’t believe just how much it tastes like Portillo’s.  Things don’t usually taste that good once they are frozen, but I couldn’t tell the difference.

A deep dish cheese pizza from Lou Malnatis in Chicago

A deep dish cheese pizza from Lou Malnati's in Chicago

We haven’t dug into the pizzas yet, but they look delicious.  They’re not the double crust like I like (ie. Giordanno’s), but they are deep dish. 

Lou Malnati’s Tastes of Chicago is perfect for someone like myself who moved away from Chicago.  It’s also great for those of you that have never had the chance to see what a real Italian beef is.  J’s mom knows exactly how make my day.  I’ve been down recently due to some unfortunate developments in my job hunt….this totally made my day

UPDATE – I cooked one of the pizzas last night for dinner.  J couldn’t make it home to eat.  Since she doesn’t like sausage, I decided to cook that one.  It was awesome.  The sauce was a chunky tomato sauce and the construction of the pizza was the inverted Chicago style.  Sausage on the bottom, then cheese, followed by the sauce.  It was enough to pizza for two dinners.  I ate half last night and half tonight.  It was awesome!

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9 responses

29 10 2008
LGH

The way to a man’s heart is thru his stomach and a good beef sandwich always makes a bad day better! Happy Birthday- Enjoy

J’s MOM

29 10 2008
J

And I can’t cook- so I have my mom ship the food in! 🙂

29 10 2008
T-Money

If you can’t make it to Chicago, a place in Troy called Hippo’s can be a stop gap measure. They serve Vienna Beef hot dogs and have a pretty good Italian Beef.

http://www.hipposhotdogs.com

29 10 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

Awesome! Just looking at their website, they look like they authentic Chicago style food…..too bad it’s still an hour and a half away…but it’s still much closer than Chicago

30 10 2008
Corky

Sounds like pretty damned-good Mother-in-Law material, double md…Maybe you should be shopping for rings…I would be…

30 10 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

Stop giving her ideas.

30 10 2008
J

Thanks Corky!

1 11 2008
Corky

BTW…Where would you get a decent Italian Beef in Lansing? I mean…other than at YOUR place…LOL

1 11 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

I haven’t even seen a place that offers an Italian Beef sandwich. There are a lot that do French Dips which is close, but not the same.

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