How to Make Pit Beef


Pit beef defines Charm City. Its smell wafts over Orioles ball games at Camden Yards from Boog Powell’s famed BBQ stand and draws lines at the Baltimore’s farmer’s market held Sundays under the JFX expressway. Pit beef's no-smoke grilling over an open pit -- hence its name -- sets it apart from other regional barbecues, essentially pulling the curtains back and letting the true taste of the meat shine through unimpeded. Bottom, top or eye of round, or the entire round if you have a half-barrel roaster, can be grilled to rare, then sliced across the grain into tender, paper-thin slices and served on a kaiser roll with horseradish sauce and onions.

Things You'll Need

  • Boneless eye of round
  • Coarse salt
  • Seasonings
  • Instant-read thermometer
Step 1

Add a spice rub to the beef -- it's the Baltimore way. Classic pit beef usually contains a combination of garlic powder, oregano, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper, but you can add or take away spices to taste.

Step 2

Set up the grill for pit beef. If you have propane, set the burners to medium; if you have a barbecue, add two layers of lit charcoal to the tray. Let the grill heat for about 30 minutes.

Step 3

Coat the beef with vegetable oil and season it with kosher salt. Grill the beef until the center reaches to 115 Fahrenheit, or just under rare. Turn the beef every 4 or 5 minutes while it cooks.

Step 4

Take the beef off the grill and cover it loosely with foil. Let the pit beef rest for about 20 minutes and cut it in half crosswise; the center will be a perfect medium rare, while the outside of the beef will be closer to medium.

Step 5

Shave the beef across the grain into paper-thin slices using a sharp meat-carving knife. Serve with horseradish sauce, sliced white onions and serve on a kaiser roll.

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Tips & Warnings

  • Pit beef is traditionally cooked to rare. If you have an aversion to rare meat, grill the round until it reaches 125 F, or medium, about 15 additional minutes.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises women who are pregnant or nursing, children and the elderly to eat beef cooked to 145 F or greater.


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