Beef Up for Next-Wave Sandwiches

Updated Chicago-style Beef Sandwiches

The classic beef sandwich is being successfully reinvented on menus across Canada. Here are three ideas to similarly enhance your menu.

The classic Italian beef sandwich is rich with opportunity. Its flavour system has craveability locked up: shaved roast beef that’s been dipped in a savoury jus then piled onto an Italian or hoagie roll and topped with sweet or hot peppers. The au jus defines the beef sandwich, either with herbal or tomato-based notes. This sandwich is a flavourful and indulgent handheld that presents huge opportunity for creative menu differentiation. “Athough Montreal’s smoked meat sandwich holds more menu space today, there’s an advantage in running a lesser known, but highly craveable sandwich—especially when you modernize it with on-trend flavours and toppings,” says Jason Kalinowski, Food Service Adviser for Gordon Food Service. 
One of the biggest advantages of tapping into a proven flavour system like this one is that the basic formula for success has already been worked out. We’re seeing a lot of play with other well-loved profiles, like pho flavours applied to loaded fries or Buffalo wings translated onto roasted cauliflower. The next wave of beef sandwiches builds on the foundation of this winning recipe. “One smart way in here is through global mash-ups,” Kalinowski says. Success here lies in taking it to the next level without deviating too far from the original. 

Here are three of the best opportunities leveraging this classic.

1. Reach into the Latin pantry

The exploration of Latin flavours continues on Canadian menus. Chefs have discovered regional Mexican ingredients, Argentinian beef treatments, chile peppers from across the region and so much more. Get creative with the addition of heat in your au jus, maybe adding chipotle or jalapeño, and pull in Latin cheeses and garnishes, like a queso fresco or Cotija, and a garnish of pickled or breaded jalapeño peppers.

La Llanera: Savoury shredded beef with avocado and melted queso fresco—Arepazo, Toronto

2. Maximize the popularity of Asian flavours 

The global mash-up trend is perhaps best expressed with the proliferation of Asian ingredients, like Sriracha, kimchi and gochujang. The classic beef sandwich practically calls out for the flavours and textures from Southeast Asia and China. The success of the Vietnamese banh mi is a great indicator that Canadian diners are ready for bolder takes on their sandwiches, Kalinowski says. Add a Korean slaw as a garnish or enrich the au jus with fresh Thai basil and mint, as example.

Korean BBQ: Braised Beef with kimchi slaw—Windsor, Vancouver, B.C.

3. Layer in Southern flavours

Exploration of American’s Southern ingredients and flavour combinations has crossed over into mainstream in recent years, and chefs continue to showcase the depth of this rich culinary heritage. Restaurants no longer need to claim a Southern-style theme to pull from its pantry. With the beef sandwich look to powdered rubs or barbecue sauces for an easy Southern update. Certainly, a barbecue sauce spiked with bourbon or molasses would add a pleasingly sweet, rich flavour to the beef. Finish out the modern profile with a sandwich topper of pickled okra or mustard seeds and maybe a swipe of pimento cheese on the bread.

12-Hour Slow-Roasted “Melt in Your Mouth” Beef Sandwich: Shaved beef brisket in a light au jus, topped with crispy Cajun onions on a roasted Panini bun—Montana’s, multiple locations

Unlock signature moves

The jus

  • Spike it with gochujang or miso for an Asian twist.
  • Offer a trio of au jus for a custom experience.

The meat

  • Tap into a Sunday roast sensibility with shredded pot roast.
  • Use a brisket braised with five-spice powder for a flavour boost.

The garnish

  • Top with crushed potato chips.
  • Make a giardiniera in house, changing up the vegetables with the seasons.
  • Finish with crispy onion strings.

Bring on the beef

Ask your Sales Representative about our Kitchen-TestedSM Recipes for next-level beef sandwiches.

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