Every year for the past ten years or so when we go to Urbanna for the Oyster Festival, the first thing I do is head for the Beach Bully food truck and order a roast beef sandwich – or two. There are probably a hundred food vendors at the festival, but Beach Bully, out of Virginia Beach, is best. I once asked what kind of beef they used and the cook said it was a bottom round roast, not a brisket as I would have guessed. They cook them in mass in a big smoker. There is no question that a round roast or steak has great flavor, but it can be as tough as the soles of a pair of Nike sneakers.
But the Beach Bully sandwiches are tender, have great flavor and their sauce is an absolutely perfect complement to roast beef.
Last Fourth of July weekend, I thought I’d try my own hand at a smoked beef barbeque sandwich complete with sauce. I knocked it out of the park!
Here’s what I discovered. First, I don’t think it’s necessary to do one of those cook-it-all-night deals on your smoker. Since it’s a larger roast, however, you don’t want to burn the outside while the inside is still raw, so bring it along at a reasonable temperature. I dusted off my old smoker and used that. I put a small stack of coals on one side and the roast on the other, enough that it was dripping some juice on the coals for added flavor. By the way, I bought the smallest round roast they had since we weren’t having company, and in the event I screwed it up, it wouldn’t be a financial disaster.
Before I put the roast on, I left it out at room temperature for about an hour so it would cook through more evenly. I seasoned it with lots of salt and pepper, but just a whisper of steak rub. I wanted the flavor of roast beef to be dominant, not a bunch of spices. The roast cooked fairly quickly, maybe an hour. I took it off when the thermometer reached 145, and it cooked even more after that, but it was still a little pink, the way Nancy likes it.
But here is the secret. Unless you are a heart surgeon with a big scalpel that will slice roast beef wafer thin, you have to use an electric meat slicer, preferably a commercial grade. Mine is a Waring Pro and I love it. I have used it often for slicing country hams and also for eye of round roasts. It was perfect for slicing the smoked roast. If you slice a round roast thinly, it cuts through all the sinew and gristle and the beef comes out tender. If you don’t cut it very thin, it’s tough.
But I was not through. The sauce is critical. Here is how I made mine, and I think it is better than Arby’s. Blend one cup of catsup, with 1 T water, 2 T light brown sugar, ¼ t onion powder, ¼ t garlic powder, 2 t Tabasco, 1 t salt and 1 t of pepper. Put the sauce in a small pot and bring to a slight boil, then turn to simmer for several minutes to thicken.
You can serve it hot or cold and it stores nicely in the fridge for up to a couple weeks. It was so good, I’m going to smoke another bottom round soon – and this time I’ll buy a bigger roast.
Roast Beef Sauce
1 C ketchup
1 t water
2 t light brown sugar
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1t Worcestershire sauce
2 t Tabasco (use Tabasco, not another hot sauce)
1 t salt
1 t pepper to taste