Loose Meat Sandwich Ideas and Recipe

Loose Meat Sandwich Ideas and Recipe
Loose meat sandwiches, also known as tavern sandwiches, are a savory staple of the Midwest. They were made popular in Iowa restaurants almost 100 years ago. The loose meat sandwich came into the consciousness of the TV watching public in 1992. That was the year when Roseanne Conner opened the Lanford Lunch Box with her sister Jackie on Roseanne, a sitcom that took a look at the "average" blue collar family. Suddenly, folks all over the world were exposed to these lovely steamed meat sandwiches. Just what is a loose meat sandwich?

Traditionally, loose meat sandwiches are made with high-grade hamburger and seasonings. Usually recipes call for salt, pepper, onions, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, sugar, fat, and liquid. They are not a sloppy Joe sandwich, so no tomato sauce is needed.

I don't feel bound by tradition, so my loose meat sandwiches don't always include the traditional meat or seasonings. Here are some ideas and a tasty non-traditional recipe.

Ground meats-hamburger, ground turkey, ground chicken, ground buffalo, ground pork, and bulk sausage.

Seasonings-salt, seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder, Greek seasoning, Beau Monde, parsley, onions, sugar, brown sugar, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, mustard, catsup (but not enough to have a red sauce), and fat. Fats can include lard, butter, shortening, canola, or olive oil.

Liquids-water, beef broth, chicken broth, or vegetable broth.

Breads-hamburger buns, Hawaiian rolls, dinner rolls, and flour tortillas. You want a type of bread that is easy to bite through, but that doesn't wilt under the weight of the steamed meat.

Turkey Burger Loose Meat Wrap Sandwich Recipe


1 pound turkey burger
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon Greek seasoning (I like Cavender's.)
½ teaspoon Beau Monde seasoning (You could also use seasoned salt.)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
½ - 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon catsup (This is not enough to cause a red sauce.)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup water
Flour tortillas
Grated cheese


In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, Greek seasoning, Beau Monde seasoning, garlic powder, Worcestershire, mustard, catsup, and pepper. Add the turkey and work the seasoning mix into it by hand. Wash your hands with soap and water.

In a heavy skillet, add the canola oil, then the meat and seasonings. Fry the meat until it has lost all of the pink coloring and has started to brown. Break up any large chunks. The pieces should be very small. Pour the water over the meat, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until all of the water is absorbed, then turn off the heat.

Prepare the flour tortillas by sprinkling a little grated cheese over them. About a tablespoon per tortilla works well. Then, I microwave them until the cheese just starts to melt. Put about a quarter cup of meat down the middle of the tortilla.

Add condiments. I like a squiggle of yellow mustard, dill pickle, thinly sliced onion, shredded lettuce, and fresh tomato. My husband is a bit of a purist. He loves a big dollop of catsup, and thinly sliced onions, with tomatoes. You choose your favorites!

If you don't prefer a wrap, you can certainly use a bun. Be sure to serve your sandwiches with plenty of napkins. They are a bit messy to eat, but oh, soooo gooood! Try some the next time you need a meal in a hurry!

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