Throw out that bottled bbq sauce! This recipe for the famous Pittsburgh chipped chopped ham bbq is great for both a quick weeknight dinner as well as a potluck.
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History of Pittsburgh’s famous bbq
The story began in 1883 when Swiss cheesemaker Christian Isaly and his family immigrated to Monroe county, Ohio. Since that time, the Islay family expanded to dairy farming and milk delivery in horse-drawn carts. The Isaly family produced and sold a wide variety of deli meats and cheeses throughout their stores in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Chipped chopped ham and their bbq sauce was born and the legend continues today.
Although the Isaly family has since retired, their trademark “chopped” ham has not. The famous ham is still sold throughout Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and is a trademark in Pittsburgh. Here in central Pennsylvania, our local grocery stores sell the famous Isaly’s Chopped Ham, and it is a must for the best ham bbq your mouth has ever tasted!
The history of the ham
Chopped ham was economical alternative to a traditional ham that became popular post World War II. Chopped ham is comprised of ham, ham trimmings, and seasonings that is ground and pressed into a loaf. The “chipped” part of chipped chopped ham comes from how it is sliced.
The chopped loaf allows the deli to slice to paper thinness, something that is hard to do with traditional baked ham. Here in Pennsylvania, people usually will ask the deli person to slice it “Pittsburgh style” or chipped. If your deli isn’t familiar with these terms, ask for the ham “shaved” to get a similar texture.
Many ham loafs on the market today can be used in this bbq recipe. However, to get the precise flavor of the famous chipped chopped ham bbq, Isaly’s is the only way to go.
Where to find Isaly’s chopped ham
Isaly’s ham is sold in markets throughout central Pennsylvania. You can purchase the ham online at Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. If neither of these are options for you, look for chopped ham at your local deli. Ask to have it chipped or shaved.
How to make Isaly’s famous chipped chopped ham bbq
I would describe Isaly’s bbq sauce as tangy and sweet, and saucy but not sticky.
The sauce is simple to make using ingredients you likely have in your refrigerator and pantry. The recipe calls for one pound of ham, but you can quadruple the recipe for large crowds.
The beauty about this recipe is that it’s great for holiday gatherings, potluck dinners, family picnics, and any large gathering. Place all the ingredients into a crockpot, heat until warmed through, and you are good to go!
The ingredients needed are simple:
- Brown sugar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Worchestershire sauce
- Onion powder
- YELLOW mustard – this is what I believe to be the secret ingredient!
Combine all the ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add the ham, stir to get all of that saucy wonder on each piece and continue to simmer until warmed through.
That’s all it takes to put a scrumptious bbq sandwich on the table for dinner. You can use whatever sandwich roll you like but I prefer the sweetness of the hawiian-style rolls for this dish.
What to serve with chipped chopped ham bbq
This bbq pairs great with baked beans and corn on the cob for an outdoor picnic. Serve bbq ham sliders at your next holiday gathering with potato chips and pickles. For dinner, I like to serve the sandwich with fried potatoes and a side of steamed broccoli or salad.
Give this famous Pennsylvania dish a try and let me know in the comments below what you think. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!
Chipped chopped ham bbq
- 1 pound chipped ham Isaly's chopped ham preferred but can use any chipped or shaved ham
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup ketchup Heinz brand if you are from PA!
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tbsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan
- Stir over medium heat until sugar melted and ingredients well combined
- Add ham
- Continue to stir until all ham is coated with sauce and heated through
- Serve on a roll with a side dish