'Beef on What?!' by Chef Kyleigh Beach
I said, Beef on Weck. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? Evidently you’ve never been to Buffalo, New York where this sandwich is a regional classic dating back a century or so. I recently had the unexpected pleasure of traveling to Buffalo for a quick business trip and was able to sample some of the local delicacies, Buffalo wings and beef on weck included. (Sadly, I was unable to make it to a Wegmans, but that’s another blog for another day. Check out www.wegmans.com if you’re curious.)
So what is beef on weck? Basically it’s a roast beef sandwich on a rather salty type of Kaiser roll called a kummelweck roll. The roll is topped with coarse pretzel salt and caraway seeds. I read that French fries, a dill pickle spear, and a punishing amount of horseradish are the customary accompaniments. This sandwich is said to have originated in a Buffalo saloon/hotel owned by Joe Gohn at the turn of the 20th century. Mr. Gohn thought a roast beef sandwich would be a nice offering for the travelers passing through. His baker at the time hailed from Germany and added his own native touches to the sandwich roll. (In German, kummel means caraway and weck means roll.) The combination of the crunchy salt crystals and earthy caraway seeds proved just as popular in Buffalo as in Germany.
Being as salty and as satisfying as it is, it’s no wonder this sandwich became such popular bar grub, but it is a wonder it hasn’t caught on in other areas of the country. National chain Buffalo Wild Wings was originally named Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck (or BW3), but the weck apparently didn’t have the mass appeal of chicken wings. Beef on weck is only served at BW3’s western New York locations.
Next time you’re on your way to Niagara Falls, I urge you to stop for a beer and a beef on weck, or pick up the ingredients at a local Wegmans, and see what all the fuss is about in western New York.