Introduction: Chicago Combo
A "combo" is a Chicago original that is sold at any food joint. It may be lesser known than the deep-dish pizza or a dressed-up Chicago hot dog, but nothing beats this 1500 calorie meat treat. If you don't live in Chicago, it may be tough to get one of these prepared for you from a street vendor, but don't worry. You can follow these instruction to create this masterpiece in your own kitchen, in less than 15 minutes.
Typically, menus at restaurants refer to this item as an "Italian Combo", or for ordering purposes, just a "Combo". This is because it is a combination of the most popular Italian items on any fast-food menu in the city of Chicago. A combo combines the beloved Italian beef, with a grilled Italian sausage. I will explain how to properly order this item when you have the experience of entering a Portillo's, or Al's Beef.
Step 1: The Beef
One of the two main ingredients of a Chicago Combo is the Italian beef. This is a common precooked meal that is available across the country. The most common brand is Papa O'Charlies, however, when you are in Chicago, you have to try out Ditka's beef.
Ditka's beef is the best because Ditka says so, and when you're in Chicago, you just don't argue with that type of logic.
Step 2: Cooking the Beef
Italian beef is precooked, so just warm it up in a pot on the stove. Pour all of the broth into the pot. Ensure that the beef is nice and hot before assembling the sandwich.
Step 3: The Sausage
The second main ingredient of the dish - the Italian sausage. You can grill or fry the sausage, just make sure that it is cooked all the way through, and try your hardest to not puncture the sausage while cooking.
Step 4: The Dressing
In Chicago, Giardiniera goes on everything. I recommend using home-made giardiniera, but if you're going for that 3:00 a.m. street vendor taste, Vienna's brand will do the trick.
**Note: Combos taste the best at 3:00 a.m. after a night of drinking on Clark Street after a Chicago Cubbies win in late September.
Step 5: The Bread
The bread for this sandwich could be the most important piece of the assembly. I prefer Gonnella's rolls. The bread has to be thick and soft. The thickness of the bread is needed to hold this monster sandwich together, and the softness is needed for the final finishing touch, explained in a later step.
Step 6: Assembly
Okay, we have our store bought Gonnella rolls, our fried Italian sausage, our simmered Italian beef, and our Vienna giardiniera. Put all of this together, and you have one of Chicago's famous Italian Combo sandwiches. But the final step is the most crucial...
Remember how the bread's leading attribute is for it to be soft like a sponge? That comes in handy, because the final step for culinary greatness is to take this sandwich, and dip the entire thing into the left-over Italian beef broth. That's right, drop that entire sandwich right into the pot and pull it back out. Be careful with it.
This is called dipping your sandwich, and is often the preferred way to eat the sandwich.
Step 7: Enjoying the Combo
The Chicago Combo will definitely take a toll on the rest of your day. Whatever you had planned, cancel it from your schedule. Eating a Combo is an all-day affair that will put your body in a metabolic coma.
You have options when ordering, such as "dipped or dry" or "Hot or Sweet Peppers". If you're in Chicago, and want to show off your local knowledge to your friends, use the following phrase when ordering.
*Can I take your order?*
"Yes, I'll have a dipped combo with hot peppers."