We made this yesterday and LOVED it! We moved to North Carolina 8 years ago from Chicago. You can't find and Italian Beef here to save your life! This was great! It tastes very similar to the beef in Chicago. We covered the pot when we were simmering and didn't simmer nearly as long as the recipe said. We simmered the sauce first with the bay leaves & fennel seeds with the lid on so that the gravy did not evaporate. Then we put the beef in the sauce and cooked until all the pink was gone. Mmmm Mmmmm Good.