Recently, I decided to make Iowa Loose Meat Sandwiches for my family. I found the recipe in one of my most recent cookbook purchases, Cook's Country Eats Local. The recipe seemed unbelievably simple. Ground meat, onion, mustard, water, salt and pepper. Yet, the cookbook authors guaranteed a lot of taste.
In Iowa, the loose meat sandwiches are known as "Maid-Rite" sandwiches, named after the chain of restaurants, that has been proudly serving the sandwiches since 1926. I've never set foot in a Maid Rite restaurant, so I have nothing to compare the Cook's Country recipe to an authentic loose meat sandwich. Nevertheless, the Cooks Country recipe boasted about being a simplified version of what seemed like a fairly simple sandwich. Given my hectic schedule at work and home, simple seemed like a very good selling point.
To be sure, the recipe took very little time to make. All of the ingredients go into the pan and you cook until the meat is done. It took about 5 minutes, plus another couple of minutes to "prepare" the buns. I prepared the sandwiches as directed and then served them.
The end result was as advertised: the sandwiches were very tasty. The cooking of onions and mustard with the meat provide additional flavors just beyond beef. Everyone enjoyed these sandwiches and, given the simplicity of the recipe, this is a good dish for people who have very little time to cook ... or make their way to Iowa to buy one.
IOWA LOOSE MEAT SANDWICHES
Recipe from Cook's Country Eats Local, pg. 175
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon yellow mustard, plus extra for serving
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 hamburger buns
1. Cook the meat. Combine beef, water, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a 10 inch skillet. Bring to simmer over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spoon. Reduce heat to medium low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, cover, and remove from heat, keep warm while preparing buns.
2. Finish the dish. Spread extra mustard on buns, then using slotted spoon, mound beef mixture on top. Cap with pickles and bun tops. Serve.