You can make roast beef from just about any roast. Our recipe here is inspired by AmazingRibs.com’s Baltimore Pit Beef and uses a budget-cut bottom roast to create tender, flavorful beef. Two keys to success with this cut: dry brine and paper thin slices. Dry brining (salting the outside of the meat) for 2 days will give the salt time to penetrate deep into the meat and lock-in juices. Cutting each slice thin will help disguise the fact that this is a very lean cut which can be tough when eaten in larger bites.
After a low ‘n slow cook (giving the meat plenty of time to absorb tasty smoke flavor), we finish off the roast with a Cold Grate sear. That final quick sear really allows the herbs in the rub to bloom and gives a nice outer crust without overcooking the interior.
There are lots of roasts in the market and they often go by many different names. We use a bottom round roast and transform a budget cut into a tasty meal. Bottom round, or top round if you use that, are often very lean so marbling of the meat won’t be a deciding factor when picking out your roast. Most important is to look for one with an over all even thickness this will promote even cooking. Also keep in mind, a plumper roast will take longer to cook than a long, thinner one.
Trim and Salt: Trim and salt the bottom round all over [1/2 tsp Kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt) per pound] and let that dry brine for 1-2 days in the fridge. This piece of meat is big enough the salt can take 2 days to fully penetrate, but overnight is long enough to get the salt well into the meat. This will ensure a juicy result with big, beefy flavor.
Season: To make the rub, combine all the spices below into a bowl and then add about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, just enough it forms a thick paste. You don’t want it to be too loose.
- 2 Tbsp Dried Rosemary
- 2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
- 2 Tbsp Black Pepper, ground
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Cayenne
Take the dry brined meat out of the fridge and pat it dry to remove the excess moisture from the surface of the meat. Then generously apply the rub all over the surface. Get it completely covered. No need to salt. We added all the salt during the dry brine step.
Since we are using a cheaper (aka less tender) cut of meat, we’re going to cook the roast low ‘n slow (225° F) to start to give the meat time to break down the connective tissues that make meat tough. The slow cook will also give our meat time to absorb some delicious smoke flavor. Then, we’ll finish it off with a Cold Grate sear to give the herbs a chance to bloom and generate a tasty outer crust.
Take about 20-25 briquettes and get them fully lit. Add 2 chunks of your choice of wood (we like pecan for this recipe) to the coals while they are getting lit. Adding the wood now will help the smoke turn thin white/blue faster so we can start cooking sooner and without risk of acrid smoke flavor. Once the coals are fully lit, add them to the Slow ‘N Sear pre-filled with a half-chimney of unlit coals.
Add your Drip ‘N Griddle Pan and cooking grate to the kettle and get a thermometer probe at grate level to monitor the pit temp. Get the lid on right away. Aim for 225°-250° F on the indirect side. It can get up to 275° F and be OK, but try to keep it under 275° F. Hotter temps will speed up your cook, but the meat will not be evenly medium rare throughout.
Once the temp stabilizes and the smoke has cleared, insert a leave-in thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat and place the roast on the indirect side of the kettle. Cook on the indirect side until the internal temp reaches about 80°-90° F, then flip top-to-bottom for even cooking. Continue to cook until the internal temp of the meat reaches 117°-120° F. At that time, remove the meat and the cooking grate from the grill. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the roast. Plan for 3-4 hours as a general guideline.
If you’d like, you can start prepping the coals for the final sear once the temperature of the meat reaches about 105° F. Off to the side, fill a chimney 3/4 full with fresh charcoal and get those coals roaring hot. They should be white hot and ashed over right about the time the meat hits 117°-120°. Remove the meat from the grill, add the fresh, hot coals and get ready to sear. Alternatively, you can remove the meat from the grill once it hits your desired temperature and leave the lid off the kettle giving the remaining coals a good influx of oxygen. With the lid off, the coals will get hot on their own and extra charcoal may not be required.
Once the fire is blazing, add the cooking grate back to the kettle and continue to sear the meat using the Cold Grate Technique until the meat hits about 127° F, internal temp. Then remove it from the heat and let it rest up to 130° F for medium-rare or 135° F for medium.
Slicing the meat “correctly” is critical. Slicing as thin as possible and against the grain will ensure a tender, easy bite. Remember, we’re using non-optimal cuts here which can be tough. Thin, against-the-grain slices will have you and your guests thinking you used a much more expensive piece of meat.
Slice the whole piece of meat in half, and then slice one of the halves down the middle the opposite direction. This will give you a flat side of the meat that will lay even and make slicing easier. Make sure your knife is sharp and don’t rush. Slice as thin as you can. When finished slicing, don’t hesitate to add any juices on your board back to the meat – yum!
This meat makes a delicious sandwich – perfect for a quick lunch or to feed a crowd. To make a traditional-style Baltimore Pit Beef sandwich, pile the beef high on a hearty roll (or rye bread), slather with horseradish sauce (recipe below), add a few thinly sliced onions and enjoy!
Baltimore Tiger Sauce
- 3 tablespoons jarred, grated horseradish in vinegar
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Mix the horseradish and mayo together and let sit at least 30 minutes.
- Prep: trim excess fat
- Dry brine overnight for best results
- Rub before cooking
- Low & Slow at 225 F until temp reaches ~117° F for med rare
- Finish with a Cold Grate sear
- Slice thinly for optimal tenderness