Palatine restaurant brings Baltimore-style pit beef to Chicago area

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- You may know about Chicago's Italian beef sandwich, but have you ever heard of a Baltimore-style pit beef?

It's a thing, and it's nowhere to be found in Chicago, unless you drive to a Palatine restaurant known for its barbecue, and only open on the weekends.

The Chicago Culinary Kitchen already has a cult-like following on the weekends. Waits can be long, but the slow-smoked brisket, pork and chicken is worth it. But now they're making Baltimore pit beef sandwiches with a smoky twist, and there's no one in the region doing anything even close.

The smokers get a workout at the Chicago Culinary Kitchen in Palatine. But their latest use is for Baltimore style pit beef sandwiches.

"Traditional Baltimore pit beef is actually cooked on the open fire. We took ours and we smoked ours first," said owner Greg Gaardbo.

Gaardbo goes one step further for his Angus beef though, dry-aging it in one of his coolers out front.

"So we use a certified Angus beef product and we dry-age it for about 30 days. It's probably in the smoker two-and-half to three-and-a-half hours then, cause we're cooking it rare."

Other meats include ham, turkey and pork shoulder. After smoking them, he slices them paper-thin, and the difference is noticeable from the East Coast version, which is only grilled.

"Putting it on the open pit you really can't get that smoke flavor in there," he said.

Once the meat is sliced, it's then placed directly over the burning wood, where he adds thinly-sliced onions, a bit of seasoning in the way of salt, pepper and granulated garlic, then a few ladlefuls of melted beef fat with butter, since the meats are pretty lean.

"Fat is your friend. Helps to keep it from drying out as well," said Gaardbo.

He then piles about a pound of meat onto charcoal buns, seasoned with rye and salt, finishing them off with a housemade sauce of horseradish, garlic and hot sauce, cut with some rich crema and buttermilk. If one sandwich seems too big, you can always downsize.

"We made little sliders as well, so if you didn't want to do a whole one, you could have a set of four of them, so you could try each one," he said.

Chicago Culinary Kitchen
773 N. Quentin Rd., Palatine
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