Regional differences are a serious matter when it comes to BBQ. Barbecue lovers know that each BBQ style has its own distinct differences that make it special and favorites are played all the time. No one can deny, however, that Maryland BBQ takes a very unique approach to BBQ. Here is how it stacks up against other styles and why pit beef is the best.
First here are some of the most popular BBQ styles in the U.S.
In North Carolina, how you prefer your BBQ depends on which part of the state you live. The “Eastern Style” consists of a chopped whole hog barbecue that is typically served with a vinegar and pepper sauce. It is served with the pig skin which adds texture to the sandwich. The traditional way to barbecue is using wood.
In the western part of the state they prefer a different BBQ style called the “Lexington” or “Piedmont Style”. This style is all about pork shoulder served with a red barbecue sauce. It is cooked just right with caramelized glaze on the shoulder.
In Memphis, Tennessee, both “dry” and “wet” pork ribs are the popular choices at local BBQ joints. The area is also known for its pulled pork shoulder that is served with a tomato-based barbecue sauce and for adding pulled barbecue into surprising dishes like spaghetti and pizza.
Kentucky does barbecue a little differently preferring to cook up mutton and add a Worcestershire sauce-based dip that was born in the town of Owensboro.
In such a large state, there is bound to be a lot of differences in the types of barbecue. The most popular is the “Central Texas style” that German and Czech origins starting in the 19th century. In this style simplicity is the key with the use of wood and simple cuts of meat like brisket. In East Texas, the preference is for more a southern style barbecue with a predominance of pork. In southwest and western Texas, there is more of a Mexican influence.
Alabama specializes in a pulled pork or chicken sandwich filled with Cole slaw, and its white sauce made of a mayonnaise-and-vinegar mixture.
In Kansas City, all the rave is barbecue smothered in a sweet tomato based sauce with molasses.
Why Maryland Pit Beef Is The Best
Baltimore is the hub of barbecue in Maryland, and in Baltimore when you say barbecue what you really mean is Baltimore pit beef.
Baltimore pit beef is basically barbecued beef that is crusty on the outside and juicy and almost rare on the inside. The meat is shaved into thin strips and heaped high on a sandwich. People come far and wide for a Baltimore pit beef sandwich. Most of the time top round is used instead of brisket which is the favorite in a lot of the other styles.
Baltimore BBQ has a distinctive flavor that you can’t get anywhere else. The bread also adds to the tastiness of the sandwich. Pit Beef is served on a Kaiser Roll or rye bread which give an earthy flavor to the sandwich. What else makes this such a signature Baltimore dish is the sauce. Unlike other regions which use a mix of ketchup, brown sugar or vinegar to give the meat its flavor, the sauce used with Baltimore pit beef has horseradish sauce in it which keeps the customers coming back for more.
One restaurant in particular, Chaps Pit Beef, exemplifies the “Baltimore Style BBQ” and is one of the pioneers of modern day Baltimore pit beef. With locations in Baltimore on Pulaski Highway and in Aberdeen on Beards Hill Road, they have created a strong following of patrons and restaurant critics alike.
Chaps Pit Beef is the brainchild of Gus Glava who owned a Southwest-themed night club on Pulaski Highway and his daughter and son-in-law. Back in May of 1987, Glava built the original Chaps Pit Beef on the grounds of his nightclub as a wedding gift for his daughter Donna and son-in-law Bob Creager who was working in a steel mill at the time.
The original stand was basically a 12 x 15 shack that shared the food license and even electricity with the nightclub. It was the most basic setup that could be with no restroom and only enough room to prep and cook the food. Bob would cook and Donna would manage the staff and eventually their business grew to not only allow for an expansion of their original shack, but also the addition of the new restaurant in Aberdeen.
Chaps “Baltimore Style BBQ” method is what made their original pit beef sandwich so famous. To make a Classic Pit Beef sandwich, Bob uses a bottom round roast flat cut from the hind quarters which are a tougher, but more flavorful cut. He trims the gristle and silver off the meat and then applies a dry rub of different herbs and spices like paprika, salt and peopper, thyme and onion powder. He then lets it sit over night and in the morning he puts it on an open pit of burning hardwood charcoal that gets to gets to about 400 to 500 degrees.
Once the beef has a nice crust on the outside and is tender on the inside, he slices it in ribbons and puts it back on the pit so he can cook to order for each of his customers. He always make sure to spread the meat around to add some char and flavor to it. Next he shaves the meat and piles it high on a kaiser roll and adds whatever fixings the customer wants, including Chaps’ special tiger sauce which is a mixture of mayonnaise and extra hot horseradish. Your food is always cooked to order.
Want to know more about Maryland BBQ and what makes pit beef sandwiches so popular, contact Chaps Pit Beef today.