Chicago-Style Italian "Beef" (Seitan) Sandwiches
1 pound seitan, very thinly sliced
3 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
2 tablespoons hot Italian giardiniera peppers or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 green bell peppers, sliced
6 French rolls
1. If using a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except rolls, and stir to incorporate. Cook on high for 2 to 4 hours.
2. If using a stovetop, place all ingredients except rolls in a large pot, stir to combine, and simmer, covered, over medium heat for 1 hour.
3. Lightly steam French rolls. Spoon seitan and peppers into each roll.
4. Just before serving, spoon a few tablespoons of the "au jus" over each sandwich to somewhat saturate the roll. (In the best Chicago sandwich joints, they simply dunk the whole sandwich!) Roll up your sleeves and pass the napkins.
As a Chicago native, and in my pre-vegan days, the "Italian Beef" was my favorite sandwich. I realized soon after I went vegan that I didn't need to lament having to give up this flavorful sandwich, as seitan stands in beautifully for the roast beef. Besides, it's the combination of all of the other ingredients that makes this sandwich so delicious.