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Baltimore Pit Beef

  • 10 servings
  • Mins
    Prep Time
  • Mins
    Cook Time

Pit beef, Baltimore’s signature sandwich, starts as a massive spice-rubbed roast beef grilled over a hot fire. The meat is sliced paper thin, piled on a big squishy bun, and topped with a few rings of raw onion. But could we recreate this sloppy, spicy, savory mess of a sandwich in our own kitchen? Here’s what we discovered: Test Kitchen Discoveries Traditional Baltimore pit beef usually starts with whole top or bottom rounds. While flavorful, these monstrous cuts are also notoriously tough when cooked medium rare. We turned to top sirloin roast for affordable, tender, and flavorful sandwich meat that performed better than the round roasts in a side-by-side test on the grill. After getting the ratios right in our paprika-based rub, we found that even with the savory exterior, the meat’s interior was still undeniably bland. To fix this, we cut our roast in half—the seasonings permeated the two smaller roasts more quickly and now we had twice the smoky, spicy crust. To char the roasts while avoiding a band of overcooked gray meat just below the surface, we wrapped our roasts in aluminum foil until they reached about 100 degrees. Then we cranked the grill, gave the roasts another dusting of seasoning, and seared them on the hot grill for about 15 minutes. They emerged charred on the outside and uniformly rosy within. To top our sandwiches, we put together a simple version of traditional Tiger Sauce with a combination of mayonnaise, horseradish, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.


Buy brined (not creamy) prepared horseradish and, if necessary, drain it.
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup hot prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove , minced
Salt and pepper
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (4- to 5-pound) boneless top sirloin beef roast , trimmed and halved crosswise
10 kaiser rolls
1 onion , sliced thin

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