Mysteries of Pittsburgh: How to Make a BBQ Chipped Ham Sandwich by Cleo Coyle

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My husband and I grew up on chipped ham sandwiches, a regional favorite in the Western Pennsylvania area where we (and Clare Cosi, our famous amateur sleuth) were born and raised. The "chipping" or shaving of deli ham is an excellent way to make a less expensive brand of ham more tasty. 
Click here for
the free PDF.

To learn more and get the insanely easy recipe for a Barbecued Chipped Ham Sandwich, click here to download a free PDF. 

Or scroll down to read the entire blog post...





Pssst... Want to play confuse the deli guy? Okay, here's what you do. Walk up to your grocery store’s cold-cuts counter and ask for a pound of Chipped Ham. Unless a member of the deli’s staff is from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, chances are he won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. 

Chipped Chopped Ham is unique to Pittsburgh, PA, (and the greater Ohio Valley) as my husband and I discovered after moving to New York City decades ago--and watching deli guys blink in total confusion whenever we tried to order a sandwich with it.


The whole thing began with a chain of regional stores called Isaly's, a name you might recognize as the original producer of the famous Klondike ice cream bar. 




Little known fact:
The Islay's website actually bragged...

"Boston has its Baked Beans.
Philly has its Cheesesteaks. Pittsburgh,
Ohio, West Virginia and surrounds?
We have Isaly’s Original Chipped
Chopped Ham."







Cleo Coyle, cheap eats 
enthusiast, is author of 
Cleo Coyle's
Pittsburgh-Style
BBQ Chipped Ham
Sandwich


The BBQ Chipped Ham Sandwich was one of the most popular lunches served in Pittsburgh's school cafeterias when my husband and I were growing up. It was the retro sandwich of our youth. It was also delicious, easy, and cheap. In fact, cheap is the point!

The "chipping" of deli ham is a great way to make a less expensive brand of ham more tasty. There’s a good reason why it does, too, just keep reading...

Makes 4 Sandwiches

Ingredients: 

1 pound of "Chipped Ham"
(Below, you'll learn how to order this at any deli.)

½ cup (8 tablespoons) ketchup

¼ cup (4 tablespoons) BBQ sauce

4 soft hamburger buns

(optional garnish) Relish, sweet or dill



Directions: 

Step 1: Order the Ham - Although the original "chip chopped" ham was made with pressed ham, you can order up any ham at your deli for this sandwich. Note: Even if you usually order the more expensive black forest or baked Virginia ham, don't be afraid to try the less expensive or "on sale" hams for this sandwich. Here's how to do it...

Simply tell your deli person to shave the ham razor thin. Tell him (or her) not to be afraid to allow the ham to break up into pieces. The deli person is actually "chipping" the meat against the commercial meat slicer blade. Here’s what it should look like...




By shaving (chipping) the meat very thin, the ham is more tender and has more flavor than if it were sliced more thickly. In Western PA, Northern West Virginia, and Eastern Ohio (aka the Ohio Valley), this slicing process is known as "Pittsburgh Style."

Step 2: Make the Frizzle Fry - When you get the chipped ham home, you’re ready to create your “frizzle fry” sandwich. (Okay, from here on, it's stupidly easy. But if you never made a hot dog before, I suppose you'd need directions, right? So here goes...)

A. Heat the Chipped Ham: Place a large skillet over medium heat. Break the ham up into the pan and stir until heated through.

B. Make your Quickie Sauce: Mix the ketchup and (your favorite) BBQ sauce in a small bowl and add to the skillet. (Some people add a little mustard at this stage. We don't, but it's an option, depending on your taste.)


You can use any brand of ketchup and BBQ sauce
for this recipe or your own homemade.
Marc and I like the "Simply Heinz" ketchup--
no corn syrup, and you can taste the improvement.

C. Combine Ham and Sauce: Stir and cook for a few more minutes. The chipped ham should be evenly coated with the ketchup-BBQ sauce. The ham should be steaming and sticky.

D. Pile it high: Divide the ham up onto the four hamburger buns.

Garnish: My husband eats this simple sandwich with no other garnish. Many people in Pittsburgh, however, enjoy adding sweet relish. I really enjoy it with relish—but I prefer dill relish. So add what you like and eat with joy.



To download this recipe in a free PDF
that you can print, save or share, click here.


Eat with  joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
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Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend or follow me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.






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