The caraway flavour of the roll complements the beef and horseradish, and the coarse salt on the roll adds crunch.
The beef can be roasted beef, or more usually, beef that was cooked as a pot roast. Ideally, the beef should be cooked till just a bit pink in the middle.
Some places that serve the sandwiches roast their own meat; others use ready-to-serve shaved meat out of vacuum-sealed packages. Beef on Weck enthusiasts prefer the sandwiches where the meat is cooked on the premises.
To assemble the sandwich, the room temperature cooked beef is shaved thinly, dipped in warmed beef juice (“au jus” sauce), and piled several inches high on half of the roll. It is then garnished with a small amount of horseradish, and the top of the roll is put on.
It is served with a small ramekin of beef juice on the side, for you to dip the sandwich in as you eat it. Some restaurants also serve the horseradish on the side instead of putting it into the sandwich, particularly if the horseradish is a very strong one.
Purists, in fact, say the strength of the horseradish (which must be grated, no creamed) is as essential as using the correct roll. Some places, though, will give you the option of having the sandwich made with a plain Kaiser Roll.
Beef on Weck Sandwiches are sold particularly at places that also sell Buffalo Wings, and at what people in Buffalo call “Custard and Beef” places, where after your sandwich, you can have a frozen custard dish for dessert. The sandwiches can also be found in the vicinity of Buffalo: for instance, they are sold in Olean, New York, 60 miles (95 km) south of Buffalo.
For home assembly, you can buy packets of instant “beef jus mix.”
Literature & Lore
The radio station out of Cheektowaga, New York State, 1230 AM WECK (a country music radio station), chose WECK as its call letters in the 1970s as a tribute to the sandwich.
Sometimes the sandwich is also spelt Beef on “Wick”, a mispelling of “Weck.”