Saturday, January 29, 2011

Marilyn Pit Beef

Oh, I know, it is supposed to be called Maryland Pit Beef or Baltimore Pit Beef.  But when I wanted to make a somewhat authentic pit beef I turned to the first people I could think of in Maryland, Brian and Marilyn of Hot Sauce Daily.  So it is Marilyn Pit Beef!  

Marilyn spoke with Tom from their local meat purveyor because he used to cook the pit beef for the Mount Airy Volunteer Fireman Carnival.  Considering that the best/first BBQ I ever had was from the volunteer fireman fundraiser in Lisbon, North Carolina, I figured Tom knew what he was talking about.  And boy did he ever.  

I'm not going to follow standard recipe protocol, I'm just working through what Marilyn shared point by point.

Don't marinate it, don't put any extra stuff on it (i.e. garlic, paprika, none of that)
Oops.  My bad.  I had already started adapting this recipe from Big Fat Daddy's and had rubbed it with
1 Tbsp Dizzy Pig Cowlick 
1 Tbsp paprika (my homemade batch)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano (some of the last of our dried from summer)
1/2 tsp black pepper
But his point is well taken.  Good beef needs little more than salt and pepper.  But since mine was already rubbed for 12 hours, I couldn't undo it.

Use a whole top round, about 20 pounds.(You can use a smaller cut, of course)
I used the smaller cut option, a 2.5 lb eye of round, which comes from the same portion of the cow (top, eye, and bottom round).

The main thing is to have a nice even heat, using charcoal. Make it pretty hot.  The secret to cooking a good pit beef is to get a nice dark brown crust, turning often to make sure you cook all sides well and  evenly. 
Turning often - That calls for using my rotisserie on the Brinkmann Professional Charcoal grill.  Our Big Green Eggs get the day off.
Nice even heat - When I took a cooking class with Chris Lilly last May, he recommended Kingsford briquettes for grilling with long steady heat compared to using lump which burns hotter but faster.   Outside of a ceramic cooker (Big Green Egg) or insulated cooker (Stumps, etc), I agree.  Since this was "open pit" cooking and it was slightly breezy on this spring like day, I turned the grill so the open lid would serve as a wind screen.
Don't mop it.. otherwise you won't get the flavor of the beef
I started to second guess this one.  But as soon as the fat cap on the roast began cooking, it rendered, dripping over the rest of the roast, self basting!   That is just one trickle but by the time it was done, it was mostly covered.

Tip:  Because this will only baste one side, reverse the direction of your rotisserie every 10-15 minutes.  This will get both sides basted.  Some rotisseries have a two way switch.  My cheap one just changes direction each time you turn it off and back on.  Don't think that only top end $1,000 grills have rotisseries.  Just about any grill can be retrofitted with a $35 kit like mine from Lowe's Home Improvement

It will probably take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, a smaller cut 40 min. or so. Internal temp should be around 120.
I was using the smaller cut and it was almost exactly 40 minutes when it hit 125f.  I took it off and let it rest for 15 minutes.  I never glazed or mopped it, that juiciness in this pic is all from the meat itself.

Then cut it in half so I'd have flat sides to work with on the slicer.

Use a meat slicer to get really thin slices.
I was halfway through doing this....

when my 2 year old Waring Pro slicer gave up the ghost.  There was a clunk, a second or two of smoke, another clunk and then a high pitch whine like a broken fly wheel or clutch.  Then it just stopped.  Dead. 
"I think he would have wanted to go out that way in the end," I playfully mourned as Alexis walked into the kitchen to see what the mechanical ruckus was.    I finished the rest by hand, you just have to have a very sharp carving knife.

Place a pile (as in "a big fistful" ) of the meat on a kaiser roll

Serve with horseradish and thinly sliced white onion
I cheated and added some thinly sliced tomato.  Winter tomatoes are weak, I couldn't even taste them.  My horseradish sauce was the one from the linked recipe
1/2 cup mayo
3 Tbsp horseradish
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp black pepper

Yes, served on paper plates.  Because it's better that way!  These were the perfect late lunch for a Saturday afternoon while our house watched college basketball and tried to recover from the flu.  You know what they say, "Feed a fever, starve a cold".

Thanks so much to Brian and Marylin for the help on this Maryland classic.  Stop by their site at Hot Sauce Daily and check out their recent 2nd Annual Week of Wings. 


  1. That looks great! Sorry to hear about your meat slicer - I am sure he had a good life.

  2. Fine looking piece of meat and sandwich Chris.

  3. Wow Chris. That meat is perfectly cooked. I totally agree with a nice crust. Not sure in Texas they would take to the "no mopping" advice, but after all, Texas is a whole other country. We would love to have a rotisserie gadget for our grill.

    Hope the flu is gone. Lots of people seem to be sick lately. Hope our flu shots work....

  4. Can you believe I lived in Baltimore for 2 years and never had pit beef? I didn't even know what it was! For shame! This looks awesome... sorry about your Waring :( The BH is sick, too-- he's going to get lamb burgers :)

  5. That is quite possibly the best looking beef I have ever seen. Next time i'm sick, I'm giving you a call. I'd better see a huge plate of this on my doorstep.

  6. Bravo *lots of hand clapping, and I am on my feet*! Bravo *repeat* Bravo! (Yes again)

    This was like attending a great Sunday matinee Chris! No really, right until the paper plate comment...I loved it, now I want my fist full of beef, or I will bury the meat slicer in Pet Cemetery...

  7. Wow, a recipe on NibbleMeThis named after me! We both laughed out loud when we saw the title. Thank you so much for the props:-) I'm glad it turned out well for you. I'll be sharing this with Tom and the guys at the fire department!

  8. It's posts like this that make me realize vegetarianism is a mental disease. It just has to be.

  9. Looks wonderful. I now know what my next grill "toy" will be.

  10. I always love it when kitchen equipment throws you a curve ball :) It has that reality affect of remember there was a time those things were not readily available to us!
    The meat looks like it is cooked perfectly, Chris! I love the simple idea of just letting the meat taste like the meat!

  11. I need that $35 kit from Lowe's. I do believe that's the best looking beef I've ever seen.

  12. Did you know pit beef was even featured in a John Waters movie? But not the way you think. In "Pecker," Ed Furlong's character's grandmother had a pit beef stand. I've never had pit beef, but it makes me think of Santa Maria tri-tip. I know you've cooked both. What's your preference between the two?

  13. Looks great, I have not had one of those in a long time. I am always thinking of how to use my rotisserie attachment. By the way, was a winner ever chosen for the hot sauce and chutney? Just curious.

  14. It looks SO GOOD! I've never had pit beef before but it is on my must do list now.

  15. Hey there! I never know what to do with the top round and now I do! This looks like it made some killer sandwiches, especially with that horseradish sauce(I love the kick in that stuff).

    Glad to see you're using your rotisserie spit!

  16. A delicious looking beef!Love the pictures!

  17. I have big tears running down my face now because there is too much snow to grill and we are supposed to get 24 inches by Wednesday. Until then, I'll just have to keep coming back to this post and drool!

  18. @Taco: Actually, no. Entries are closed but I didn't do the drawing of a winner yet. 3/4 of us got the flu last week and I'm still fighting it today. I had 3 good hours saturday and paid for it since then. I'll do a drawing for it with my next post.

  19. I'm sorry you're sick! That crap is flying around the blogosphere, so I've sprayed myself down with hand sanitizer and am soldiering on. :)
    I know I've told you this before, but a rare roast beef sandwich on a chewy roll is my favorite food in the whole world. (If I were on death row, it would be my last meal request) When you add in slices of sweet onion, horseradish and side it with crispy French fries, I am just done in. Seriously.

  20. Man that looks good! Of course.

    BTW you should just send me some business cards since I keep sending other Eggers (or whatever you call you BGE folks) over to you as the Eggpert on all things BGE! Don't send that flu my way though!! ;)

  21. That looks gloriously delicious Chris! The care that you take with your cooking always impresses me. Hope you're on your way to feeling better!

  22. Aahem...I visited your blog, I saw the Kingsford contest, I entered...and NOW I'M ONE OF TEN FINALISTS!!! Holy crap! So now YOU need to vote for ME! I must win, I know NOTHING about grilling, of course the Kingsford people don't know that but maybe my picture with a bag of charcoal on top of my PROPANE BBQ tipped them off! Thanks, I think! xo, Nan

  23. That was so genius. like you i hated to use winter tomatoes in a dish but certainly this method of extracting the taste change my mind.


Comments are moderated and won't appear immediately.