Chicago Style, Italian Beef Pizza!!

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I was excited to do this months Daring Baker challenge, ” PIZZA NAPOLETANA” , for one thing, I’m a proud Italian cook! and the other thing is, my family on my Mom’s side is from Naples!

The pizza dough recipe which we had to use, came from Peter Reinharts, “The Bread Bakers Apprentice” other than that, we were free to use any sauce or topping we wanted.

Seeing that I’m a girl born and raised in Chicagoland, I thought it would be fun to base my pizza on one of the foods Chicago is known for, and that is Italian Beef!

Originating in Chicago, this sandwich dates back to the 1930’s. Paper thin slices of lean roast beef, simmered in a beef juice that’s loaded with flavors of garlic, oregano, and depending on where you get it from, many other “secret spices”!

I always order mine with “sweet and hot”( peppers that is). Sweet being, green bell peppers that have been sauteed, and the hot, which is usually a homemade giardiniera.

I picked up a pound of our favorite Italian beef from Portillo’s, a very popular place that is always consistent, and always good.
When you buy it by the pound, they always separate the beef from the juice. When you get it home, instructions are to slowly simmer them together, never heating it on high heat, so that’s what I did to get all the flavors into the beef, but then because I was going to put this on top of a pizza, I drained all the juice from it, otherwise your pizza would be a soggy mess.

My sauce was made by simply opening up a can of good crushed tomatoes, and right into the can I put 1 clove of crushed garlic, about 1 teaspoon of salt, some pepper, a light sprinkling of oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir it all up, take a spoon, and spread it all over your dough.

Of course I had to add “sweet and hot” to my pizza, along with some shredded mozzarella.
The verdict on the dough: I thought the texture and the chewiness was great, it cooked up golden and crunchy, but I feel it lacked flavor, almost like it needed a little more yeasty taste to it. But thats just my opinion!

A big “Thanks” goes out to our hostess Rosa, of Rosas Yummy Yums who picked this challenge.

Click on her blog to get the complete recipe for the pizza dough.

Also go here, and check out some of the other pizza’s that have been cooked up out in the blogosphere!

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  1. Oh yum! This pizza sounds/looks delicious! What a great recipe! This would be great to make on Halloween to munch on while watching a scary movie!

  2. Looks absolutely delicious! Great job!

  3. Oh, I’ve been so homesick this week and now that I’ve seen this, I’m ready to charter and airplane back home! Chicago Italian Beef is THE best on the planet, and I’m absolutely smitten with your pizza. How clever to mix the sauce right in the can, and that sweet and hot mix is just perfect for me. Ah, there’s no place like home!

  4. Yay! Pizza pie! The post looks great from here 😉

  5. Pizza looks very tasty, your pictures make me drool! And you are right, pizza dough has to have that yeasty flavor or it’s just not as good. And what we do without Portillo’s? No one can make beef like they do.

  6. Go for it you Proud Italian Cook…marvellous blend of the best of both worlds! Chicagoland & Italy…I’ve got my knife & fork ready…does pose a handsome picture Marie! It’s beautiful & I’m ready to dive in…

  7. Thanks for the pictures. Chicago’s Italian beef is the best and I can’t wait for my next trip home to visit Portillo’s. I also thinking a trip to Unos may be in order.

  8. Oh, this looks good! Now I am craving pizza with Italian beef:)

  9. Glad you are back!
    I was worried!

    I always make Peter Reinhardt’s dough recipe, and it is pretty fool proof.

    However, you know I am not going to comment on Chicago style pizza, because I’ve never tried it, so I won’t compare it to NY pizza.
    So, we can still be friends!

  10. Of COURSE you were excited about this challenge. It was totally your avenue to get all creative with your Italian touch! Amazing choice… it just looks perfect!

  11. Wow, that is a mean looking pizza! Nice work!

  12. MAN! You out my favorite Italian beef on top! I have to head over to Portillos and do the same with my leftover dough balls. Excellent idea!

  13. It is 9 o’clock in the morning and I could eat this right now. You’ve really made me hungry with this one. I only wish we had a good Italian grocery. I am jealous!

  14. I knew you would have an unbelievable pizza for Daring Bakers! Looks delicious!

  15. Marie… how wonderful your pizza looks!! I should try my hand at a Chicago style pizza, I know for sure my DH would love the beef!!

  16. Oooo, Mama-Maria! That’s a good-looking pizza. I love how you made this truly your own with the Italian beef. Your photographs are always an inspiration to me too.

    Big hugs & kisses to you! I’m working on not being a stranger…. promise.

    xoxox Amy

  17. Hi Marie!

    Your pizza looks delicious and a nice full meal with all the flavors combined on it.

    While it was good, I too think the dough lacked something! Perhaps we are just spoiled by the really good pizzas in our areas — let’s face it NYC and Chicago go hand in hand as having the very pizza to be found in the USA!

    Cheers! Pat

  18. YUMO!!! I am dying for a piece of this terrific looking pizza… You are a wonder in the kitchen… Love it!


  19. Brilliant Marie. We love Portillo’s. I was just having a conversation with my brother from Chicago. The family is coming here to visit for Thanksgiving, and I told him I was getting a panini maker so everyone could make yummy sandwiches during the week. He said make sure I have giardiniera! You know, the good kind they have in Chicago, I haven’t seen it here in California. I think he is shipping a giant bottle from Chicago’s Costco. That you put it on this pizza, he would be in heaven. I am sending him the link right now.

  20. ‘Oh yum!’ was my immediate reaction when the page came up.

    You and I make the sauce topping in exactly the same way (could be the Neapolitan influence).

    There’s no chance of getting Chicage beef here. I’ll just have to stick with breaking up Italian sausage over it before cooking.

  21. Your pizza looks awesome. Can I have a piece even though is still AM!!

  22. All these pizzas are making me hungry, yours looks just amazing. Great job!

  23. Isn’t it wonderful how creative we were able to be with this challenge!!! And something everyone eats! Love your pizza!

  24. What a great place to get inspiration from a sandwich!
    I was very happy with the taste but I see several thought it was not so much as you say.

  25. That slice of pizza looks like a delicious meal!

  26. This pizza looks so yummy! Never had Italian-style roast beef before but am dying to try.

  27. All these pizzas today have my stomach rumbling. I like the inspiration for this pizza and the outcome looks spectacular!

  28. The first meaty pizza has me in a spell…I’m yours…chores, you name it!

  29. Wow- I love your pizza! The Italian beef sounds so mouth wateringly good! Way to go Marie!!!

  30. Oh Marie… Oh Marie (Every time I come by I wind up singing the Louis Prima version in my head!!)… great post(s)- I have been cathing up on my reading and I have missed more than a few of yours… Mom used to brown a little ground beef (chopped-meat when we were growing up) and put it on a pizza… always liked it (being the carnivore I am) because it was like having a meatball sliced on top, but… well- different… great texture especially when it sorta falls ‘under’ the cheese… and now (working backwards… your pastina looks soooo good… another of Mom’s faves- Gramma still tells me that she used to make it for my mother a few times a week with a little broth or just butter and cheese… love it inside the pumpkin- it’s a gorgeous dish that is so often underplayed… and the ricotta pie..mmmm.. the French can keep their quiche… Ill take this one every time… Keep em comin!!

    Johnny T

  31. Oh damn! I made pizza dough last weekend and there’s none left to try something like this on. You’d think after 3 nights of pizza I would over it already!

  32. interesting about the yeasty taste; I will need to try it again to think more about that. But, I love this chicagoland pizza–reminds me of my time there.

  33. Oh Marie…this is too good. I love Italian Beef, I’m not even from Chicago so I probably haven’t even had the real thing which I’m sure is so amazing. Your pizza looks fantastic and I love your idea of combining a great sandwich onto pizza! I wish I had a piece right now! 🙂

  34. HOT DAMN! Now this is what I’m taking about. WHOA – this is the mack daddy’s of all pizza. See, folks dont’ really know about Portillos outside of Chicago – but boy have you captured the essence of what the Chicago Italian Beef is all about. WOW!


  35. Well it sounds like you had a bit of an unfair advantage what with the Neopolitan DNA and all … but I won’t tell anyone if you make me one of those pizzas once a month, every month, forever. Deal???

  36. This looks wonderful! My grandmother is from Naples (well, Nola, right outside Naples!), so of course I love neapolitan anything! I enjoyed reading about Chicago Italian Beef, too. I bet your pizza dough is better, though!

  37. I want to come to your house for pizza! That looks so good I could eat it all! Great pizza!!

  38. Seeing the Portillos wrapper made me tear up a bit – I miss it so much!

  39. I’m not a big beef person, but I LOVE the idea here! How totally Chicago! Way cool!

  40. Oh yummy! I will take a slice right now 🙂

  41. I think I gained 10 pounds just looking at all that yummy, juicy beef on that pizza.

    I *heart* the Daring Bakers!

  42. This challenge was right up your alley, I can tell that you had fun. The pizza looks out of this world!

  43. Chicago beef makes a wonderful looking pizza.. I would really like to try this though.. are you taking long distant orders? 🙂 Very yummy Marie!!

  44. This looks great, so creative!

  45. My husband, looking over my shoulder, commented “That looks good!” Sums it up. Yum! Hooray Chicago!

  46. Alright already – I’ll eat your pizza instead of mine – gawd it looks fantastic.
    Stop what you’re doing – go right now and buy molasses 🙂

  47. Wow, your pizza looks so delicious! I really wish I had a slice for lunch right now!

  48. FANTASTIC!!! Our members would love this site!


  49. Oh My! Another one of these jaw dropping stomach hunger craving pages! Whether its the pics or the wording that was put together oh so well just to explain the juicyness of the food, It Sounded Gooood To Me 🙂 and with that in mind I think we should all have a moment of silence and really think when we can take a trip down the best place to eat in your town or at a vacation getaway!
    Well, let me know what you guys think because I am surely ready to enjoy a national tour of foods:)!

  50. Looks very good!!!! Anything with the beloved Italian Beef is so tasty!!! I added your recipe to our website,

    You can find it under Recipes

    Please try making one of our Italian Beef Sandwiches from scratch, YOU’LL LOVE IT