Hot Wet Beef! 💦
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Those of you that have spent any significant amount of time with me, know that I am prone to inexplicably wet my hair at a moment’s notice. Let’s just say if there’s running water nearby, it’s going to make its way onto my locks. It’s what I do. I’ve always assumed it was a vanity thing. Personally, I think it makes my hair look better, but it’s likely an undiagnosed case of OCD. It also might be the reason why I am drawn to eating some regional roast beef sandwiches. Don’t get the segue, well let me explain. Maybe I just like to wet things. Throughout the country, sandwiches like the Chicago Italian Beef, French Dip and Brooklyn Style Roast Beef, to name a few, pride themselves on “the wetter the better". All of them excellent as is, but made a hundred times better when doused in their own juices. Can you see the correlation now?
My favorite, the Beef on Weck, is as common to Buffalonians as the chicken wing, but little-known outside of the Western New York region. “Beef”, as in roast beef and “weck”, the abbreviated version for kummelweck; a locally baked Kaiser style roll with a generous sprinkle of coarse salt and caraway seeds. This local favorite consists of thinly sliced beef slow cooked to a pinkish hue, generously dipped in au jus, topped with a healthy dab of house made horseradish and wrapped in foil. Think Arby’s but so much better. The anise flavored crunch from the salt and caraway, mixed with the tang of the horseradish packs an unmistakable punch to the taste buds.💥
This foodigenous has an uncertain origin although it is commonly believed that the kummelweck roll recipe was brought over to the States by William Wahr, a German baker in the mid-19th Century. Not long after, a smart thinking bar owner seized the opportunity to sell more drinks and decided to pair the salty kummelweck with his savory roast beef creating the sandwich we know today. Popularity grew throughout other neighborhood watering holes as pub owners quickly realized that not only were alcohol sales up, so was the food.
Unlike the French Dip, a similarly dipped roast beef sandwich that can be found on restaurant menus across the country, Beef on Weck never gained national recognition. The sports bar Buffalo Wild Wings tried to change that but failed. In 1982, the original name of the restaurant was Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck. Despite the sandwich’s local popularity, it did not catch on to the mainstream audience. Weck was dropped from the name and and the menu. In Buffalo however, the specialty is available practically everywhere. If you plan on visiting the Queen City, we suggest you head to Schwabl's in West Seneca NY, an OG restaurant that’s been around since 1837 and believed by some, to be the original. And if you happen to visit in the summer, consider also checking out Anderson’s Frozen Custard, a regional ice cream chain that also makes a bad ass version of the the sandwich.
If you are unable to make your way to the Buffalo area, check out this easy kummelweck roll recipe and make your own at home.
Stay tuned for future editions of HOT WET BEEF💦 , where hopefully we can get to the bottom of what causes some of these regional favorites to go mainstream