Loose Meat Sandwich


This isn’t haute cuisine but it’s very, very good. It’s not well known outside of the American midwest. It’s called a “loose meat” sandwich. Made famous by the Maid Rite Sandwich Shop chain it resembles the more familiar Sloppy Joe sandwich, but it isn’t a Sloppy Joe. It’s probably closer to a hamburger except the ground beef isn’t formed into a patty. It consists of ground beef and sautéed onions on a bun. No tomato sauce, no bell peppers and barely any seasoning other than salt. Condiments aren’t debatable, either. There’s yellow mustard and pickles.

Like many cult foods around America, the loose meat sandwich has a fanatic cult following. People have been known to fly from areas of the States that don’t have a Maid Rite Sandwich shop to places in Iowa and it’s neighboring states just for a loose meat sandwich. It’s not that they are difficult to make, in fact they are ridiculously easy, but like many regional foods of this nature there’s something special about consuming a cult food in it’s indigenous environs.

Don’t be put off by the simplicity of this sandwich. It really is deceptively good. Start with some high quality ground beef, ground chuck is best for this. Choose a good quality bun, something soft and fresh. Serve with some homemade French fries or onions rings and you’ll have a bit of cult heaven from the American Midwest.

2 lbs ground chuck
1 cup chicken or beef broth
1 medium onion finely diced
Salt to taste
Yellow mustard
Sliced dill pickles
8 hamburger buns

Brown the beef in a pan breaking up the meat as small as possible. Add the onions and sauté until onions become transparent, Add the broth and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until all the moisture has cooked away. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Serve on hamburger buns with yellow mustard and dill pickle slices.

  1. This makes me think of Roseanne.🙂

    I’ll definitely be trying this. If it supported the Connor family for a couple seasons it must be good!

  2. I have never had a loose meat sandwich but look forward to the oportunity!

  3. looks like a great sandwich, I would be loading up with the hot sauce~ wow

  4. Regional foods are always delightful to outsiders and the curiosity of eating those makes for enjoyable tales. This one I have not heard of but the simplicity of it (and the fact that it’s popular) makes for good eating … and soon to be on our plates. Thanks Kathy

  5. Mmmmm….a delicious-looking sandwich. Now I feel like eating a sandwich for lunch😀

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