~ Buffalo-Style Beef-on-a-Weck (Kummelweck Roll) ~
What the heck is "beef on a weck"? It's Buffalo's "other" famous food. When it comes to this German-rooted sandwich, the slow-roasted, melt-in-your-mouth, thin-sliced top sirloin, combined with the coarse-salt and caraway-seed crusted roll is a match made in heaven. Served with a bowl of jus for dipping, grated horseradish for topping, usually a side of German-style potato salad and always a pickle, the weck is one heck of a fine roast beef sandwich.
Thanks to two founding members of our PSU tailgate group who hail from Buffalo, NY, I heard tales of "beef on a weck" for over thirty years. On more than a few occasions, Mary and her husband Joe served their version of this revered sandwich at cocktail parties and tailgates. Schwable's, a family-run business since 1837, is where a good majority of Buffalonians go to whet their appetites for wecks (and German fare in general). Thanks to my husband Joe, who, in the recent past, has had a business reason to shuffle off to Buffalo, I got to sink my teeth into a one-and-only real-deal Schwables weck. To learn more, just click on the Related Article link below, ~ Road Trip: Buffalo NY's One & Only -- Schwable's ~.
Buffalo's kummelweck roll is a round, Kaiser-type roll topped with caraway seeds and coarse salt -- crusty on the outside and firm enough on the inside to hold up to the sliced beef and its juices without getting soggy (meaning: the roll isn't going to fall apart as you eat the sandwich). In German, "kummel is the word for "caraway" and "weck" means "roll". If you are planning to make "beef on a weck" sandwiches outside of the Buffalo area, you'll discover that it's next to impossible to find these rolls in any grocery store. As the name implies, "sliced, slow-roasted beef served on a kummelweck roll", without the roll you're not eating a real-deal weck sandwich -- It's the roll that gives this sandwich its distinctive taste and its name. You can find my recipe for ~ Caraway-Seeded Salt-Crusted Kummelweck Rolls ~ in Categories 2, 5 and 17.
A typical beef-on-a-weck is made from slow-roasted, well- but mildly-seasoned, rare- to medium-rare, roast beef that is always hand-carved (never machine cut) into 1/8"-1/4" slices (not paper-thin or shredded) and heaped directly onto a waiting weck. Depending upon how "wet" with jus you want your sandwich, it can be a drippy mess to eat, so, dress casual. To my tooth, eating a weck is like biting into a cross between a mouth-watering prime rib and a filet mignon sandwich. Schwabl's ties two big center-cut top sirloin roasts together, which, makes hand-carving a lot of beef at once really efficient. When it comes to roasting the beef in my home kitchen, I find a single top sirloin roast more manageable. Making a Buffalo-style beef-on-a-weck sandwich a la Mel is a lot easier than you think, but:
YOU NEED AN INSTANT-READ MEAT THERMOMETER!!!
If you do not have one, go buy, beg, borrow or steal one. Come back and read the rest of this post when you have it in hand.
1 12-pound top sirloin roast, at room temperature (Note: Never put a large piece of ice-cold meat into the oven to roast. It will not cook evenly and it will lower the oven temperature considerably.)
freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend
1 large yellow or sweet onion, coarsely-chopped, about 12 ounces
8 large, whole garlic cloves
1 48-ounce box-of-beef broth
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
~ Step 2. Top roast with a copious amount of ground peppercorn blend and sea salt, allowing the excess to drop down into the liquid.
~ Step 3. Roast, uncovered, on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, about 2-2 1/2 hours, or, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center, in 2-3 spots, reads 125-130 degrees. Do not overcook!
~ Step 4. Tightly seal the entire pan with aluminum foil. Set aside to rest, about 2 hours. This allows residual heat to cook the roast to medium-rare, and, gives the juices time to distribute themselves evenly throughout the roast. This rest period is very important.
~ Step 6. Transfer pan juices, via a mesh strainer into a fat/lean separator. Add the lean portion of the jus to a 2-quart saucepan. Bring the jus to a simmer over medium-high heat and continue to simmer for 1 minute. You now have 4-5 cups of jus for dipping your sandwiches into.
Options: Feel free to use a pair of tongs to dip an entire sandwich's worth of sliced beef into the hot jus prior to piling it high onto each kummelweck roll and/or serving each sandwich with a small bowl of jus to the side for dipping or drizzling on each weck at the discretion of each eater.
Note: Dipping the sandwiches prior to placing them on the weck rolls will use up enough of the jus that you might run short if you plan to served it on the side too. To avoid that, simply add 1 cup of beef broth + 2 tablespoons Worcestershire to the jus prior to simmering it for 1 minute.
Surround every weck with love: jus, potato salad* & pickles!
* The weck is classically served w/grated horseradish. I put the horseradish in the potato salad. Stay tuned for ~Roast Beef Eatin' Horseradish-Mayo Potato Salad~.
Special Equipment List: 2, 20" x 12" x 4" disposable aluminum roasting pans, doubled to form one sturdy pan; 18" x 10" cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; instant-read meat thermometer; aluminum foil; plastic wrap; mesh strainer; fat/lean separator; 2-quart saucepan
Cook's Note: Buffalo-style Beef-on-a-Weck is not the only thing I serve on weck rolls. For a sweet and savory treat, try 'em with ~ My Braised & Brown Sugar Glazed Corned Beef ~ . You can find the recipe in Categories 2, 3, 19 or 20!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)