Baltimore’s BBQ That Isn’t BBQ – The Pit Beef Sandwich

What some refer to as Baltimore’s version of BBQ isn’t BBQ at all. Of course, what would someone from the New York Times know about BBQ? I’m referring to the pit beef sandwich.

Pit beef is prepared by grilling a beef roast under high heat until it is medium rare, then sliced thin, and eaten as a sandwich with horseradish. Here’s how to make it:

First, the roast. I prefer sirloin tip, although some use top or bottom round. I don’t like the latter due to the thick wedge of fat then runs through it. I’ve heard of people using eye round, but grilled eye round is barely fit for human consumption, so I really can’t suggest that.

Next, the spice rub. I use two portions of salt to equal portions of ground red pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, and a little ground red pepper. There’s no exact science here.

Coat the entire roast with the rub.

Then put it in the fridge at least a day before you’re going to cook it.

Next, take the roast out of the fridge, and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so, to warm up a bit, so when you grill it, you’ll maximize the volume that stays at medium rare. Of course, the USDA food safety police say this is a dangerous food safety violation.

Meanwhile, get your grill going nice and hot, and put the roast on.

Grill with the lid off on high heat.

When your instant read thermometer says 123F, you’re done. That’s medium rare. The USDA says 145F is medium rare. They’re idiots.

Next, you want to tent your beef under aluminum foil, to let it rest, so you don’t lose the juices. Don’t skip this step.

While your beef is resting, you want to slice your onions. I use an electric meat slicer, since I’m going to use it to slice the beef anyway.

Slice your onions thin.

Slice your beef thin as well. Sure, you can use a knife if you’re good at it and not lazy. Me, I’m lazy. And I have a deli slicer, so I may as well use it.

Put some horseradish on your bun, the beef, and the onions. If you’ve got mayonnaise, throw it away now, before someone uses it.

Serve with chips. Ideally Grandma Utz chips, cooked in lard.

The radio connection? The Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds used to serve pit beef sandwiches. Now that there’s no outdoor tailgating, I’m not sure if they do anymore.

2 thoughts on “Baltimore’s BBQ That Isn’t BBQ – The Pit Beef Sandwich

  1. YUMMY!
    I first heard of Pit Beef while watching a John Waters movie and figured I’d never get to try it due to my rational fear of traveling to the east coast.
    Thanks Chris! I know what I am having for dinner tomorrow (and for a couple days after).
    I hate mayo.

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