Ox Roast Memorial Day 2008

I’ll admit right up front that not too many people are likely to try today’s recipe. Unless you’ve got a whole day to kill, a crew of five, and 300 close friends to feed you’re just not going to manage this one. But come along for the ride anyway to see how to turn 200 pounds of beef into an unbelievably good dinner in just 12 hours.


200 pounds of beef, trimmed to 4 steamship rounds
5 pounds of dry rub (secret recipe)
900 ears of corn
140 pounds of lump charcoal
50-gallon barrel, split lengthwise


We’ve been doing this party each Memorial Day and Labor Day for the last several years, and it gets bigger every time. We all chip in to cover the beef and corn, and each family brings a side dish to share.

The food prep starts the night before when Scott applies the dry rub to the beef. Then …

5:00 a.m.

We meet down at the park to start the fire and load everything onto the two spits.

That’s Scott getting intimate with the beef, and Tim going all Van Helsing with the wooden stakes.


All the beef is loaded up and over the fire.

For the next 12 hours, someone turns each spit a quarter-turn every 15 minutes.

6:30 a.m.

The fat layer is already starting to crackle.

7:00 a.m.

As the sun comes up, you can see that everyone came down the night before to reserve their picnic tables.

The beef is already starting to look good enough to eat. For the next 11 hours we all keep a close eye on each other to make sure no one starts snacking early.

I can’t send the smell of it through the screen, but this clip might give just a little taste of the temptation we were facing all day. Listen to the crackle … notice the fat dripping into the fire … mmmmmm …

7:40 a.m.

For the next four hours, this is all the activity you’ll see down in the park.

That sign, in case you can’t read it:





Dan starts wrapping and soaking the corn.

12:40 p.m.

The rest of the crew starts arriving after lunch. That’s Dan on the right. (Yes, another Dan.)

12:45 p.m.

By quarter-to-one it looks ready to eat.

1:30 p.m.

The first batch of corn goes on the grill.

3:00 p.m.

Scott starts checking the internal temperature of the beef, so we can adjust the fire or the height of the spits to hit our 6:00 target

5:00 p.m.

Hanging out, waiting for the action to start.

5:15 p.m.

The side dishes start showing up.

This is why I made so many twice baked potatoes.

6:00 p.m.

Cut the first hunk of beef down from the spit. Things got a little hectic here as 300+ people showed up, all wanting their roast beast right now.

6:30 p.m.

We’re already into the third steamship round by this point. That’s me holding the pan and Scott (yes, another Scott … no, it’s not confusing) working the knife.

Andy and Scott trim everything up to hand off to the slicers.

You might have noticed that lovely crust doesn’t seem to be making it off the carving table. There’s a reason we volunteer to carve each year.

Scott (the first Scott) and Pete work the two slicers (sorry, didn’t get good pictures of them) shaving everything nice and thin. Vince showed up partway through dinner and hopped on one of the slicers.

7:00 p.m.

Everyone has gone through the line at least once, most of them twice. There’s about half of the last piece of beef still on the spit, and the carving crew finally gets to set down and enjoy a meal.

And that’s it.