We LOVE the 50 nifty United States of this awesome country and believe each state is special. Every Monday we feature a sandwich unique to its state as part of our “50 Sandwiches, 50 States, 50 Weeks” series beginning with Alabama and ending with Wyoming.
Remember the Roseanne sitcom when Roseanne and Jackie opened a restaurant, The Lunch Box, and featured a loose meat sandwich as their specialty? Oh, you don’t? That’s ok. You’re up to speed now. I honestly never thought the loose meat sandwich was real. I’m not sure why, but maybe because the name seems so generic, and, well, unappetizing. Would you like some loose meat? Eh? I’ll pass.
But since we started spotlighting a sandwich from each state in alphabetical order, we would eventually make it to Iowa. It was then I was faced, yet again, with the words loose meat. But I’m older now, more open minded and sort of intrigued about loose meat. The loose meat sandwich, aka a Tavern sandwich, aka a loose hamburger, aka a sloppy joe without the slop is real and it’s pretty popular in one of our great states so it must be yummy good, right?
As I nosed around Google, I learned the sandwich was popularized by a restaurant chain called Maid-Rite in the 1920’s. In fact, if you want a “Maid-Rite” the locals know you’re referring to their loose meat sandwich. Originally, the loose meat, Maid-Rite sandwich consisted of unseasoned ground beef sauteed with minced onions served on a hamburger bun with pickles and mustard. Bleck! It baffles me how unseasoned ground meat gained such popularity- the beef must have been prime.
Today the Maid-Rite sandwiches are seasoned and you can even get them with cheese. Yet a Maid Rite restaurant known as Taylor’s in Marshalltown still makes their loose meat the old fashioned way- unseasoned- and is said to have the best loose meat sandwich of the Maid-Rite chain. Sticking to my ground beef-without-seasonings-is-bleck-belief our version has seasonings, and some pretty dang good seasoning I must say! Gary made this easy sandwich in no time and it was fantastic! I gobbled mine up and am now and forever a lover of the loose meat sandwich.
- 2 Tbsps. oil
- 2 small onions, minced (reserve some for garnish)
- 2 lbs.85% lean ground beef
- 2 Tbsps. yellow mustard
- 2 Tbsps. white vinegar
- 2 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tsps. sugar
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 (14.5) oz cans low sodium beef broth
- 6 hamburger buns
- Sliced pickles
- Heat oil in a large saute pan or skillet on medium heat.
- Add onion and cook until translucent
- Add ground beef and cook until browned, use a potato masher to crumble the meat
- Mix in the other ingredients (except broth) until well combined
- Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium/low to low and simmer until all the liquid is gone.
- Serve on toasted hamburger buns topped with minced onions and pickles.