Chipped ham barbecue sandwiches are a Pittsburgh classic. The key ingredient is Isaly’s chipped-chopped ham, which is cut so thin you might describe it as shaved instead of sliced. If you don’t live in Western Pennsylvania or Eastern Ohio, chances are good that Isaly’s isn’t an option. In that case, buy whatever smoked ham is available and ask for it to be shaved. Another significant ingredient with a big Pittsburgh connection is Heinz ketchup. Considering it’s availability, the brand is non-negotiable. Don’t argue, just use it. Please note that the measurements in this recipe are not exact. This is one in which you just need to keep tasting to determine what appeals to you–more hot sauce, less Worcestershire, desired sauce-to-meat ratio–you get the picture.
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 lbs shaved ham, preferably Isaly’s chipped-chopped ham
2 cups Heinz Ketchup, or to taste
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
2 tsp hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or to taste
8-12 Soft burger buns
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion to the melted butter and sauté it until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to the pot. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to low. Allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, run a knife through the ham a few times to give it a rough chop. Add the ham to the pot and stir to coat the meat with the sauce. You want the meat to be saucy, so if it looks dry add more ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to taste.
4. Allow the meat and sauce simmer together for a few minutes. Once the meat has warmed through, pile heaping spoonfuls of the barbecue on soft burger buns and enjoy.