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.