The Bear, Beef Sandwiches & Wilco

Today’s entry is going to be an old school (or should I say Olde Style) Netflix and Grill endeavor as we talk about the biggest show of the summer, share music and do our best to recreate some Chicago food! So get comfy, fire up the grill and crockpot, and put on some Wilco.

Okay, lets get started.

Television’s breakout show of the summer, The Bear (FX on Hulu), isn’t just about dinner rushes, razor thin operating margins and the stress of working in a weathered, but well-loved Chicago Beef Sandwich shop. No, at its core, The Bear is a show about family, relationships and loss that should be applauded for its service industry realism instead of a caricature of the people who live in this world.

And damn it, that was a refreshing, original and dignifying turn.

In charge of the restaurant, colloquially nicknamed ‘The Beef,’ is Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen Moore), a brooding and emotionally stunted James Beard award winning Chef who, after the suicide of older brother and proprietor Michael (Jon Berenthal), has returned from New York City to run the family business. Upon his return, Carmy does his best to whip The Beef into shape, often at the cost of his relationship with his still grieving sister Sugar (Abby Elliot), talented and ambitious sous chef (Ayo Edebiri), and family friend/knucklehead/long-term employee, Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Uber focused on his work in the kitchen, repaying a family debt and not letting The Beef fail, Carmy keeps these characters at bay, often to the detriment of his personal and professional life.

The simplicity of this premise, combined with the talent of the ENTIRE cast, shines brightest when moments are shared between just two characters. Whether those scenes take place over a stove, in an argument about risotto, during a cigarette break, or on the return trip from catering a child’s birthday party, the actors, writers, and showrunners have developed a formula that, unlike my homemade pizza dough, rises to the occasion and rewards the viewer for watching.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar cameos, comedic moments and incredibly impressive soundtrack. Oh yeah, Oliver Platt plays Carmy’s semi-mobbed up uncle. What else could you ask for?

Just do yourself a favor and watch The Bear, but don’t do it on an empty stomach. And when your are finished watching The Bear, do yourself another favor and tell a family member that you love them.

Now we eat.

In Columbus, Ohio (where I live), we unfortunately don’t have many options for authentic Chicago Style hot dogs and even fewer restaurants that serve up the Chicago Beef Sandwiches featured on The Bear. Which meant if I wanted either, I was headed to Carfagna’s Italian Market – a local Italian grocery in business since 1937 – so I could make both at home. Carfagna’s is a Central Ohio treasure, originally located in my old neighborhood, and I am proud to have shopped there for almost 15 years.

As you can see in the photo below, I was able to obtain almost everything (for both dogs and sandwiches) in one stop. Even though it meant battling mall people and mall traffic.

  • Sahlen’s All Beef Hot Dogs
  • Marconi Sport Peppers

And everything else I THOUGHT I had at home. That list is:

  • Diced Onion
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Unspoiled Relish
  • Celery Salt
  • Diced Roma Tomatoes
  • Kosher Pickle Spears
  • Split Top Buns (I could not find poppy seed buns)

So here is a HOT DOG recipe. Take your time, be gentle with the condiments, and don’t be like Sydney and rush it:

  1. GRILL your dogs and get a nice char. Don’t boil, you aren’t a child
  2. Put the dog in the bun
  3. Top with all of the ingredients
  4. Celery salt goes on last
  5. Make sure your relish isn’t expired (my relish was and as a result was not on the dog).
*Ramekin full of Pea Salad for photo support*

You are probably going to need something to wash that down, so make sure you pick up a six pack of Olde Style tall boys at Beer Zone at Kenny Market.

Let’s go back to our Carfagna’s shopping cart and pick out the ingredients for our beef sandwiches.

  • 3 lb chuck roast
  • Cento brand Pepperoncini
  • Vienna brand Hot Giardiniera
  • House made buns

At home I had:

  • Diced Onion (medium)
  • Beef Broth (32 oz container)

And here is what I did. Remember, I am not a gourmet chef, just a dude with a blog:

  1. Add broth to crockpot
  2. Add chuck roast
  3. Remove stems from pepperoncini and add whole jar (including juice)
  4. Add diced onion
  5. Cook on low in crockpot for 6 hours
  6. Remove beef and dice/shred
  7. Fill bun with crockpot roast/onion/pepperoncini mix
  8. Top with giardiniera
  9. Top with desired amount of crockpot juices/au jus (a little can go a long way)
  10. Serve with Vitner’s chips (courtesy of Amazon and I could only find the Tangy Triple Cheese)

Of course I probably simplified both recipes, but I think both turned out great. Also, the left over beef warms up in a pan really well and might be even better.

THE MUSIC

If it wasn’t for the Yellowjackets (ShowTime), The Bear would have been the best television soundtrack of the year and watching the show made me realize why I first fell in love with Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky. Seriously, when Impossible Germany drops, you are going to lose your mind. The same with Sufjan Stevens and Radiohead.

Here is my Spotify play list and link to all tunes officially showcased in The Bear. Bonus points to the showrunners for again avoiding stereotype by NOT including any Chicago Blues AND FOR including The Counting Crows (I apologize for neither of those statements).

One thought on “The Bear, Beef Sandwiches & Wilco

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