james and i have had a love affair with poke ever since trying it in venice beach a few years back. it’s traditionally made with fresh, sushi grade tuna and a variety of add ins such as rice, kale, shredded carrots, macadamia nuts, ginger, etc. while i LOVE the tuna version, i wanted to take those flavors and switch out the tuna for tofu. the results were spectacular!
In terms of regional cuisine, when people think of Baltimore, they tend to immediately conjure images of steamed crabs dusted in Old Bay with hammers pounding, shells cracking and ice cold Natty Boh’s washing down delicious piles of picked crab meat. While crabs might be the most iconic food in Charm City, the city’s lesser known BBQ tradition is as unique and delicious as the city itself.
We’re talking Baltimore Pit Beef, a fixture at fairs, picnics and roadside shacks.
Almost exclusive to the Baltimore area, Pit Beef is usually a roast cut of beef, either eye or round, seared over a hot grill and finished over low temperature to a medium rare. The meat is sliced as thin as possible and piled hot on soft Kaiser rolls with sliced raw onion and a horseradish-based sauce often called Horsey or Tiger Sauce.
In essence, it’s just a hot roast beef sandwich, but the intersection of charred exterior, medium rare interior, creamy horseradish and punchy raw onion meld into a dish that is as delicious as it is simple. I had my first Pit Beef experience at one of the most famous establishments, Chapps Pit Beef, a true dive in the parking lot of a strip club on Pulaski Highway and I’ve been itching to have it again ever since.
For those making Pit Beef at home, the traditional method is to sear a beef roast rubbed with spices over hot coals until all sides are sufficiently charred to taste, then the meat is carefully monitored over indirect heat until it hits the perfect medium rare. We are lazy and love shortcuts, so for this recipe, we are breaking out the Anova Sous Vide machine to do the heavy lifting.
Beef eye or bottom roast, sized to fit in a food saver bag. Ours was about 3lbs after trimming.
Spices including pepper, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and chili powder
Fresh Kaiser rolls
Sous Vide machine. We’re using the Anova Bluetooth model.
Food saver or similar vacuum sealer and bags
Deli Slicer, Electric carving knife, or really sharp knife and knife skills
Super hot grill
Trim any excess fat from the beef roast and try to remove as much of the silverskin as possible.
For super flavor town, we’re going to equilibrium brine this sucker overnight in a solution of approximately 1% brine. For this 3lbs roast with water, that amounted to about 1.2 oz of salt. If you’re going to go longer than 12 hours in the brine, I’d cut the percentage to the neighborhood of .05%, but it’s your call really.
On cooking day, take the roast out of your solution, rinse under cool water and pat dry with paper towels.
Season all sides of the roast well with nearly equal portions of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I like to build the flavors in layers so I start with a very light dusting of chili powder, then a healthy covering of garlic powder, pepper and salt in that order.
Set your sous vide cooker to your preferred level of rare, 125°F for rare and up to 135°F for traditional medium rare. We choose 128°F hoping to stay right in the middle.
Plop the meat in your sous vide bath and let it go for a minimum of four hours and up to around 24 at the maximum. The longer you go, the more the tissue will break down, so for traditional Pit Beef, you probably want to stay on the shorter side to retain a little body. Ours cooked for about 7.5 hours.
While your roast is cooking, mix up your Tiger sauce. Stir together approximately one cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup of Mayonaise, 2 tbs Dijon mustard, 2 tbs of chopped horseradish, a dash of cayenne pepper and the juice of almost half a lemon. Cover and save in the fridge until ready to serve.
After the meat is fully cooked, fire up a screaming hot grill, the hotter the better. Remove the meat from the foodsaver bag, dry with paper towels and then sear on all sides until a nice char is developed.
Let the roast rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing as thin as possible to achieve the best texture. A deli slicer works best, but an electric carving knife or careful use of a standard chefs knife will also work.
Slice your raw onion into thin rings, we used our mandolin to get nice thin and consistent slices, but a steady hand and a good knife will do just as well. If raw onion is too much for you digestivly, soak the onion slices in cold water for a couple of hours to take the edge off.
To serve, place sliced onion on a soft Kaiser roll, top with piles of warm pit beef and then smear the top with horseradish sauce. Eat immediately. As a variation, Pit Beef is also sometimes served with a light drizzle of BBQ sauce.
Unhinge your jaw like a cobra and stuff the sandwich into your face. Don’t forget to chew.
If you give this a try, let us know how you liked it by leaving us a comment below.
one block of firm tofu, drained of excess liquid and cut in bite size pieces. crush about 2 cups of everything pretzel crisps and roll tofu pieces in the crumbs. line a cookie sheet with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray and bake on 375 for 10 minutes, flip and bake another 10.
mix equal parts honey and grainy dijon mustard and serve along side for dipping.
jb has been a homebrewer for some years now. i’m recently getting more involved as i really want to learn the process from a-z. not just order pizza and drink beers while we brew. though i do love that part too.
so today we decided to brew an ipa for our upcoming summer party on july 4th. we’re about 5 weeks out so this will give the beer a good bit of time to ferment and it’ll give our guests a good bit of beer to drank while they party the night away with us.
we made 10 gallons using “the beast” system. a 3 tiered monster aquired from our friend brady by way of our local homebrew shop in falls church,va.
i had fun. i learned a lot. but i can tell you this, brewing is exhausting!
if you’re a hat collector like me, this thing will change your life! it’s a simple, inexpensive weekend project that will completely change your hat storage game. go to the hardware store and get a board, stain and door stops. stain the board and screw in the stops. you’ll need a paint brush and a mini wrench. that’s it. couldn’t be simpler.
last weekend james was starvin’ marvin and we had no snacks. then i remembered we had some leftover cotija cheese! decided to try our hand at cotija bites – sort of a nod to mozzarella sticks. they turned out really well and cured jb’s hangriness. all we did was cube up the cheese, toss in egg and then in panko. heated up some oil in a pan and fried those suckers til brown and crispy. served along side some marinara and smiled our fat, cheese loving faces off.
It’s been a while since this blog was updated, but we’ve been cooking and shopping the whole time we were gone.
Last night we decided to try out Geoffrey Zakarian’s ricotta gnocchi recipe, and having never even tried gnocchi before, it was a surprisingly easy hit. I’ve been a gnocchi fan for what seams like forever, but when I think back to when I first started eating it I realize how absolutely terrible it was most of the time. When I’d order a plate, I’d get what I know now to be pre-made, mass produced and insanely dense gnocchi from a bag. The reason why every restaurant back in the day had the same distinctive forked gnocchi shape was they were probably all using the same frozen gnocchi!
Flash forward to today and every restaurant worth its salt is making pillowy, heavenly light gnocchi from scratch. The difference is astounding, and these little delights can be made in a variety of ways and paired with a nearly infinite number of sauces to make some fantastic appetizer or main dish options. I assumed they would be difficult to make, but they just couldn’t be easier to whip up.
i know, tofu and french toast together just sounds strange but don’t knock it til you try it. we had some leftover tofu and i was going to just scramble it up with some eggs for breakfast but i’ve had the worst sweet tooth lately. i blame the holidaze…. sometimes trying something new pays off. this was definitely one of those times. seriously, you must try this!
one slice of extra firm, light tofu, sliced thick
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
start by getting as much liquid as you can out of your tofu. i wrapped mine in paper towels and placed a plate on top of it for about 20 minutes.
in a bowl, combine egg, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
get a pan going over medium-high heat and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
generously coat your tofu with egg mixture and add to pan. let it go about 4 minutes per side or until a nice brown crust forms.
that’s it. so easy and so yummy.
optional toppings: syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream, jam, etc.
thanks to sala over at veggie belly for this recipe. we sort of took it and ran with it. tweaked a few things but the end result was soooo good.
1 block of extra firm tofu
3 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs vegetable oil
pinch of herbs de provence
salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic, sliced thin
pat tofu dry and slice into four steaks. take garlic slices and insert into the tofu for an added flavor bonus! then mix together soy sauce, herbs de provence, oil, salt and pepper and add tofu steaks to the marinade. let sit for about 30 minutes.
for the gravy:
1 pack of sliced baby bellas
1 pack of sliced shitakes
1 pack of dried chanterelles
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 cups veggie stock
2 tbs flour
1 tbs butter
1 tbs chopped sage
few sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper
first, put your chanterelles in some warm water and let them soak about 30 minutes to reconstitute. after 30 minutes, remove from water and pat dry.
add 1 tbs butter to a pan on medium-high heat. once melted, add in your onions and garlic and allow them to sweat a bit, about 5 minutes. then add your sage, thyme and mushrooms and let them cook for about 8 minutes. add in stock. in a separate bowl, whisk together balsamic and flour and add to your pan. reduce heat to simmer and cook the gravy down for about 10 minutes.
sala cooked her tofu steaks at 350 for an hour and 15 minutes but we were a couple of starvin marvins so we just pan fried ours. while this was delicious, we’re definitely going to try sala’s method next time.
for our method – remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. get a pan going over medium heat and add 1 tbs butter. once melted, add in steaks and cook about 6 minutes each side.
we upped the flavor ante by adding in a tablespoon of porcini mushroom powder and a good pinch of truffle salt. both of which i found on amazon and both totally worth buying.