February 10, 2010

recipe of the week | loose meat tavern sandwich recipe

Ladies, I have stumbled upon a rare genus of man: man who cooks.


I don’t know why, but the allure of a man who cooks is simply irresistible…even when he proposes to cook something that doesn’t sound too beautiful in the English language (or SMS English language, to be succinct):

man who cooks: listen up poker face. shrimp scampi. or loose meat tavern.

me: what is a loose meat tavern? im scared to google that at work.

man who cooks: it’s what we eat in the upper midwest instead of burgers. tangy ground up beef on a bun—but not in a patty form.  saucy and messy.

Because his explanation of this dish, a dish native to man who cooks’ hometown, seemed legit, I was brave enough to risk my IT department tracking me Googling something as risque-sounding as “loose meat tavern.” To my surprise, “loose meat tavern” yields about 5,610,000 search results, with the top hits belonging to The Blue Mill Tavern Loosemeat Sandwich and Iowa Maid-Rites (Loose Meat Sandwiches). Basically, a loose meat tavern is a sloppy joe without the tomato sauce mess and hails from Sioux City, Iowa. Another man who cooks, Abraham Kaled, created the loose meat sandwich in 1934 at Sioux City’s Ye Olde Tavern Inn, according to the Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink.

After consuming all this loose meat tavern knowledge, I was more prepared to let the man who cooks take over my beloved kitchen.

man who cooks loose meat tavern sandwiches

Cast iron skillet + man who cooks = hot.

If you happen to have a man who cooks, or want to toss together your own loose meat tavern sandwiches, here’s the simple recipe, taken from the man who cooks’ recipe box. The original title of the recipe is called “Taverns: Grandmummy’s recipe from South Dakota.”

Loose Meat Tavern Sandwiches
Serves 4-6

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon mustard (try different varieties of mustard for a kick)
1 pound ground beef
4-6 hamburger buns

1. Heat slightly salted and oiled cast iron skillet on medium.

2. Combine all ingredients except ground beef into a mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Brown ground beef in cast iron skillet.

4. Add ingredients from mixing bowl to cast iron skillet and turn heat down to simmer. Cook slowly for about 30 minutes so all the seasonings soak into the beef.

5. Serve the loose meat over hamburger buns and enjoy!

If you’re not into cooking, have yet to find a man who cooks, or simply don’t want to mess up your pristine kitchen (ahem), see if you can find some old seasons of the show Roseanne (Nick at Nite?) to get a sampling of what a loose meat tavern is. On the show, Roseanne’s restaurant The Lunchbox specializes in loose meat sandwiches. Too bad she didn’t have a nice-looking man who cooks in her restaurant’s kitchen.

If you’re adventurous and yearning for a loose meat tavern sandwich, you can always take a road trip to NuWay Cafe in Wichita, Kansas, for its version of the loose meat tavern sandwich, creatively called the NuWay—which it’s been producing the old-fashioned way since 1930.

Have you ever had a loose meat tavern sandwich? Can I still consider myself a sloppy joe virgin?

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