Home made Beef on Weck: First, what is it?

May 30, 2012

Over the years I've received numerous emails from listeners who rhapsodize over the Beef on Weck sandwich of upstate New York . Last week's "favorite foods of memory"  installment brought yet another mention so I decided I'd make my own. Step one was finding out exactly what a Beef on Weck is.

An exhaustive fact-finding expedition – okay an email to an old friend who went to college in Buffalo – revealed that Beef on Weck is piled-high rare roast beef on a special roll, the kummelweck – a roll similar to a kaiser topped with coarse salt and "kummel,"  German for caraway.  

Here's more about the history of this upstate NY specialty second in popularity only to Buffalo Wings.

I went  with the King Arthur Flour Kummelweck recipe – with a few changes. Even though it's my usual practice to follow all recipes exactly the first time I try them, KA's was calling for two kinds of specialty flour – their Sir Lancelot Hi-Gluten and Special KA unbleached bread flour.  

Much as I like King Arthur products I wasn't about to pay $6.95 plus shipping for a three pound bag of the Lancelot so I just used the regular KA bread flour available from the supermarket and added four tablespoons of gluten powder to...uh,  beef it up. Maybe it would have been better with the special flour but  I was happy with the  crumb. The problem was the crust.

KA says to paint the rolls with melted butter, sprinkle on the seed and coarse salt, and bake. When I sliced and turned over the top of the finished roll all the seeds fell off. Next time out I think I'll use something a little stickier like  an egg wash. Or maybe just a water spray  crispier crust.

"Enjoy every sandwich"

– Warren Zevon