Back when newly crowned Top Chef Master Rick Bayless was merely the son of a pit master, he and his sister, LuAnn, spent many Saturday afternoons helping their mom purvey the family barbecue restaurant’s No. 1 seller: chopped beef sandwiches.
In honor of Bayless’s win last week, the chopped beef is our Sandwich of the Month. The Hickory House started out selling them for a quarter, or five for a buck. "We must’ve sold a million of ’em,” Levita Anderson said from her northwest Oklahoma City home. She said a good portion of that million was sold on game days to north-dwelling Sooner fans who were south-bound for Norman. "We used to have meals already sacked and ready for the fans driving down,” she said. "LuAnn and Rick helped me pass them out.” The Hickory House closed a little more than two decades ago, but thanks to Rick Bayless’ re-creation of the old recipes, we can all enjoy a Hickory House chopped beef sandwich with all the trimmings in the privacy of our homes. I made the sauce, the slaws, the beans, the deviled eggs and the pimento cheese pickles last weekend, and it was some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had. I take no credit for the outcome, as the recipes — save for the brisket — were provided by Bayless from the original recipes. The only new recipe was for the rub, because Cain’s no longer makes a barbecue rub. If you’re not inclined to make your own chopped beef sandwich, Levita did say she found a place in town that makes the closest she’s ever had to the original Hickory House version.