Local Heroes: Beef on weck
June 18th, 2010
02:00 PM ET
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Celebrating America's regional sandwiches, one bite at a time.

Hometown: Buffalo, New York, and surrounding area

Specs: Freshly sliced roast beef on salt and caraway-covered roll. The top of the roll is dipped in the beef jus, and a pot of strong horseradish is served alongside.

Backstory: The soul of Buffalo's favorite sandwich is the bread: a round Kaiser-style roll with caraway seeds and coarse pretzel salt baked onto the top. The roll, called a kümmelweck, is the source of the sandwich's name, was brought to western New York state by German immigrants, probably at the beginning of the 20th century. The origin story gets a little murky after that, but the most accepted version is that a bar owner was hoping to sell more beer and added the salty, thirst-inducing sandwich to his lunchtime buffet table.

Standard sides: Fries and a sour pickle. And a beer, of course.

Where to get your hands on one: The classic place is Schwabl's bar, which has been serving locals since 1837.  Sandwich aficionados have nothing but good things to say about the Bar-Bill Tavern in East Aurora. Buffalo mini-chain Charlie the Butcher has brought the weck out of the bar and into the supermarket, setting up branches inside Wegman's supermarkets.

Unlike Buffalo's more famous export, those spicy chicken wings, beef on weck hasn't really made it out of western New York. But a few expats has taken on the job of educating the rest of the country. Bonnie's Grill in Brooklyn has been serving up the weck for almost a decade. In Wilmington, North Carolina, the Buffalonian owners of South College Sandwich and Deli are bringing the sandwich to barbecue country.

Trying it at home: The roast beef part is easy; any recipe will do. The roll is the tricky part. If you want to try baking your own, the King Arthur Flour company has a recipe. Or you could try a clever cheat by Bobby Flay: Use standard Kaiser rolls, mix the salt and caraway into a cornstarch paste, and heat for a few minutes until they adhere.

Got a favorite sandwich that no one outside your hometown knows about? Post the mouthwatering details below.

[Image via Flickr/azgalarnea]



soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. susan simovich

    there is a recipe for fresh weck in one of the Stern's books that I use all of the time.

    we used to haunt Schwabl's every time we went north for a concert or a game. i would rather eat beef on weck than wings ANY day.

    if you had lived just a bit south of Buffalo in Fredonia your sandwich would be a tiny bit different: thin sliced rare roast beef, swiss cheese, shredded lettuce and 1000 island dressing served cold.

    i like them either way and so does my husband.

    June 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  2. julie

    O'Maddys Gulfport Florida Just like up home. Yummmmmmmm Salt Caraway seeds crusty roll dipped in au jus. Wait soaked in au jus. Piled high with roast beef. Hot french fries and delicious pickles. lived here 15 years- just found out they are 6 blocks from my house!! :):)

    June 20, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  3. dmanburger

    Check out Bonnie Grill's burger too, it's great !! http://dmanburger.wordpress.com/

    June 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
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