The Blue Mill Tavern Loosemeat Sandwich

Total Time
30mins
Prep
10 mins
Cook
20 mins

I've chosen to submit this recipe because the recipes found on this website for loosemeats, and on other websites, are not the original recipe. The loosemeat was created in 1924 at Ye Old Tavern-now Gus' Family Restaurant on 14th and Jackson St. in Sioux City, Iowa. Nowadays you will find the original sandwich served at Bob's Drive Inn on Hwy 75, LeMars, Iowa just a mile or so out of Sioux City, at The Tastee Inn and Out, on Gordon Drive and at Miles Inn on Leech Ave. among others. If you see a recipe for loosemeats that contains tomato juice-run! A loosemeat is a sloppy joe without the slop-so stay away from anything tomato-ey please! These little sandwiches are great for football parties, slumber parties, with a cold beer on a sunny summer day, or just anytime you want a real taste of Americana cooking that takes just a few minutes with very little cleanup. These are typical Iowa tavern fare. I loved these sandwiches so much when I was a kid and one day I ran into my Grandma's tavern and asked for my usual "tavern". They always came served with a thin sheet of restaurant paper under them. I was so eager I ate my sandwich half way gone before I realized I was eating the paper too:-) After cooking these in the kitchen they were transferred to a portable steamer. This is the original recipe for the little dudes that were served in the Midwest. I cannot account for changes or differences in flavor for other regions of the country, east or west. I learned to make my Grandma's version when I came to spend summers with her in Sioux City between 1958-65. She's the reason I've become a diehard foodie, a "from scratch" cook. My Grandma was a fearless woman who wasn't afraid to tread in unfamiliar waters. In so many ways food brings people together. I had no idea these little sandwiches would be so loved and bring such happiness to people. I've been so touched by the messages I've received from folks who've tried this recipe and then shared their memories w/me! Thanks!! And thank you Recipezaar for creating a place for us to come together and share with each other!

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Ingredients

Nutrition
  • 1 lb of real good ground chuck or 1 lb ground beef round or 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon fat like lard (if meat is round or sirloin) or 1 tablespoon Crisco (if meat is round or sirloin)
  • 2 teaspoons salt, just enough to lightly cover bottom of your skillet
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • water, to cover
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Get out a cast iron skillet-they are the best for loosemeats-or other kind if you have no iron skillet.
  2. Melt fat over medium heat and lightly salt bottom of skillet.
  3. Break ground beef up in skillet and start crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon-this is very important-the meat must end up being cooked up into small crumbles.
  4. Add chopped onion while browning meat.
  5. Keep working with the back of spoon to break up meat.
  6. When meat is browned, drain off any fat and return meat to skillet.
  7. Add mustard, vinegar, sugar, and just enough water to barely cover meat in the pan.
  8. Cook, at a simmer, till water is all cooked out-between 15-20 minutes.
  9. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Heat your hamburger buns-they're traditionally steamed for loosemeats-I like mine toasted lightly-do it the way you like it.
  11. When buns are warm, put yellow mustard on them and add some dill pickle slices-I put on lots!
  12. *If you start changing this recipe and using things like olive oil for the fat and Dijon or honey mustard for the yellow mustard, you will not get the traditional yummy taste of a loosemeat sandwich.
  13. Likewise, don't add any liquid smoke or Worcestershire sauce.
  14. Make them just like this the first time so you can sample the simplicity of this famous Midwestern treat.
  15. If you want to start making changes after that by all means do so but I'd like you to taste the original recipe at least once.
  16. Serve with homemade potato salad and chips or with my Easy Cheesy Potato recipe.