Sunday, October 20, 2013

Baltimore Pit Beef

I can't resist an opportunity for rituals, especially around food, and this year I've decided that my Packer snacks will be themed around the city/region of the opposing team. To play the 49ers, I made Mission-style burritos, chili for the Redskins, Cincinnati Chili for the Bengals, Coney Dogs for the Lions, and most recently, pit beef for the Ravens. Pit beef is a recipe for a crowd, but luckily I was hosting a house full of hungry men when I cooked up this recipe. Grilled meat is a pretty good bet to satisfy a crowd even in its simplest form, but this beefy goodness is made even more sublime with a simple, well-balanced spice rub and pungent horseradish-based tiger sauce. I'm an avid fan of strong flavors like horseradish, but even my father, with his much more mild-mannered taste buds, said that the tanginess of the tiger sauce hit just the right balance with the rich, smoky, salty beef. Raw onion, another polarizing ingredient, adds a nice sharp note that accents the rest of the flavors, though both the onion and sauce it can be easily omitted for those who find it to be a bit too much.

The temperatures are still mild enough here to permit firing up the grill for this recipe, which will definitely give you the best flavor. If you'd rather keep warm and cozy inside, the beef can be roasted in the oven and finished with a sear in a cast iron pan to create a delightful, crusty exterior. A crowd-pleasing recipe for any gathering of carnivores from coast to coast, I hope you won't wait until your team plays the Ravens to cook up this delicious recipe.

Baltimore Pit Beef
adapted from Steven Raichlan, via the New York Times
makes 8 sandwiches

For the rub:
2 tablespoons seasoned salt
1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 3-pound piece top round
8 kaiser (or other) rolls
Horseradish sauce (see below)
1 sweet white onion, sliced thin
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced thin (optional)
Iceburg lettuce (optional).

1. Combine ingredients for the rub in a bowl, and mix. Sprinkle 3 to 4 tablespoons all over the beef, patting it in. Place in a baking dish, and cover with plastic wrap. You can cover the beef with the rub for a few hours, but for maximum flavor, leave it for 3 days in the refrigerator, turning once a day.

2. Prepare a hot grill. Grill beef 30 to 40 minutes, or until outside is crusty and dark brown and internal temperature is about 120 degrees (for rare). Turn beef often. Transfer to a cutting board; let it rest 5 minutes.

3. Slice beef thinly across grain. Pile beef high on a roll or bread slathered with horseradish sauce. Garnish with onions, tomatoes and sliced lettuce. Serve.

Yield: 8 sandwiches.

Horseradish Sauce
yields 1.5 cups
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup prepared white horseradish, or to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste.

Combine ingredients in a bowl, and whisk to mix. Adjust seasonings to taste.

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