February 11, 2014

Tavern Sandwich {a.k.a. Loose Meat Sandwich}

I think I was destined to be a foodie. I should have known this when, as a teenager, my biggest takeaway from the Roseanne show was wondering what a “loose meat” sandwich was. Remember that? Towards the end of the series, Roseanne had that little diner that served loose meat (loosemeat?) sandwiches. I can remember thinking that sounded pretty interesting! I was like fifteen.

Of course, I'm the one who walked out of Twilight wondering what was in Harry Clearwater's fish fry too.

So when my friend, Kris, from Sugar Cookies to Peterbilts posted this recipe for Tavern Sandwiches I wondered if they were the same as Roseanne’s loose meat sandwiches. I mean, that’s what it looks like… loose meat. I did a little digging and, sure enough, they are the same thing! Or close enough anyway. Read more about these sandwiches here.

The onions loved this. They’re similar to a Sloppy Joe, which they loved. But they’re not ketchupy, which I loved.

I plan on making this the next time I have a bunch of folks over because everyone can easily serve themselves and, if you cook it in a crock pot, it will be hot and ready when your guests get hungry!

Here’s my version of a Tavern Sandwich (aka Loose Meat Sandwich). I don’t know if it’s traditional but I think a slice of American cheese would be great on these!

Oh, and I’ll warn you, they ain't joking when they call this “loose meat” because you’ll make a big ol’ mess eating these! But it’s part of the fun, I think!

Tavern Sandwich {a.k.a. Loose Meat Sandwich}
recipe adapted from Sugar Cookies to Peterbilts' Crockpot Tavern Sandwich
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 10.5-oz. can Beef Consommé
12 hamburger buns, toasted

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through. Drain fat.

Add ground beef mixture and remaining ingredients to a large pot. Bring mixture to a simmer then reduce heat and cook on low, covered, for 4 hours.

To serve, scoop meat with a slotted spoon to allow excess broth to drain off and serve on a toasted bun. Serve with dill pickle chips, cheese, yellow mustard or other condiments of choice.

Crock Pot Variation:
In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through. Drain fat.

Add ground beef mixture and remaining ingredients to a crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

To serve, scoop meat with a slotted spoon to allow excess broth to drain off and serve on a toasted bun. Serve with dill pickle chips, cheese, yellow mustard or other condiments of choice.


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  1. I loved Roseanne and used to wonder the same thing!

  2. around here they are known as made-rite's, they are so yummy, I'll take one of these anytime over a sloppy joe.

  3. on my first trip through Iowa a stop at Made-Rite had me hooked, when I asked for mayo you could hear a pin drop, they knew I was from the south.

    1. HAHA! I bet! You should see me trying to make a sandwich or dress a burger when we're visiting in Canada. I ask where the mayo is and they all look at me like I just asked for raw veal.

    2. Don't know where in Canada you go, but Mayo, mustard and other stuff gets on sandwiches around here in Northeast BC. Has since I was a kid way back in the 60's .

  4. I remember these from Roseanne, too! I fell in love with them then and have forgotten all about them. These are fabulous with either Velveeta stirred into the meat, or a slather of Cheez Whiz on your bun. Either way it is a heart attack on a plate and I LOVE EVERY BITE! Oh Yes! Patti Panuccio, MAYO is a must!

  5. OHMUHGAWSH... definitely going to have to give these a whirl!!

  6. I remember rushing to Reed's Diner after school to get a Maid-Rite in the late 1950's in West Des Moines, Iowa. They are so good and I still make them. Your recipe is very close to theirs. They were served with only pickles and mustard...on a steamed bun. The beauty of any recipe is making it your own. My husband insists on putting ketchup on his while I shudder:)

  7. I live in Iowa and these are staples in this state! We call them maid-rites (after the famous restaurant). I also remember watching Roseanne thinking....doesn't everyone know what these are???

  8. My family uses a similar recipe for sloppy joes. They use a can of chicken gumbo soup instead of consommé, and add 1/4 C. ketchup and 2 tbsp. yellow mustard. It's really very good.

    1. You are the only other person I've heard of making sloppy joes this way!!! :))) That's the only way my family makes them!

    2. My family makes them this way too. I haven't had them in forever - gumbo may be on my shopping list today!

  9. My daughter's husband to be is from Iowa, and the first I heard about these were from him. He also calls them Made-Rites. Sounds great to me! I also like the fact that there's no ketchup, but I'll definitely be using mayo on mine! Lol...I'm from the south too! Thanks for a great post!

  10. I remember! I take a pound or 2 of ground whatever and I brown it. After draining, i put int onion, green pepper, and whatever I want. I add a can of chicken broth and simmer until the broth is absorbed. After cooling I put it all in a zip lock and in the fridge. That way whatever I want this week, I have the basis: loose meat, sloppy joe, taco, spaghetti. Just take out a serving and complete. Cook once, serve 5 times

  11. I think I will serve these with Pita pockets to make them easier to eat. I do that with sloppy joes!

  12. I've had these sandwiches before and they are tasty!
    Pickles and mustard are my favorite way to eat them.
    I really was surprised by how many people have not heard of them.
    Needless to say, anytime I make them I have to make a lot, our neighbors 'sniff' their way to my kitchen...LOL!!

  13. These sound like a NuWay from Wichita Kansas...anyone familiar with them? My husbands absolute Fav!

    1. I love NuWay! I am from Hutchinson about a 45 minute drive from Wichita!

  14. They call these Steamers in our area and they are awesome....I do add a very small amt. of ketsup. Makes my mouth water.

  15. Making these tonight, I may serve them in hotdog buns to save on the mess!

  16. These sound like Zip-Burgers. When I was a kid my mother would load us up in the car and off to Mugs-Up Drive in in Grandview, Missouri where we would get out Ice cold rootbeer and zip burgers. I'll have to give these a try. Thanks

  17. I made these, but I added a package of Beefy Onion soup mix as well, did not have enough onion. So I just substituted the soup mix and they turned out really tasty!!

  18. Made these tonight they were a BIG hit even with my "difficult to please" picky eater! Thanks! BTW I love all your recipes! I pin most of them! ;)

  19. I made these & if your are from the south ... You are not going to like these,we like katsup based meat ... These were mustard based.. Not good

    1. That would be a sloppy Joe....

  20. I love them! Do I count as a Southerner? I'm not sure what ketchup and mustard have to do with this recipe? This isn't barbeque (and it doesn't have mustard in it?) but since we're talking about it, ketchup based BBQ sauce isn't necessarily Southern. We eat mustard based sauce in SC, there's black pepper & vinegar in NC and white sauce in Alabama.

  21. I am familiar with Maid Rites and have tried to duplicate them at home. I am making these today and can hardly wait for 4 hours. They smell wonderful. The drive in here was called Frost Top and you at in your car. I also remember them having a generous amount of sliced dill pickles. Thanks for sharing!.

  22. If you want to keep your tavern or maid rite bun from falling apart---put the meat mixture on the top bun, add the bottom and turn over to eat!!

  23. I love these! These are served where I live in NC (aka Mayberry RFD) with tomato, slaw and mayo.

  24. In the northwest part of Iowa, near Sioux City, we have Tastee's. These are more popular than the Maid-rites in the middle of the state. They are also known for their onion chips and dip. The dip has a cottage cheese base. Don't judge till you try it! Here are the recipies.

    5 lb hamburger (serves 25)
    1/2 cup ketchup
    1/4 cup horseradish
    1 t salt
    1t Worcester sauce
    1 c chopped onion
    1 c water
    2 t accent
    1 t mustard
    cook on low to med. heat, stir often around 1/2 hour

    Onion Chips and Dip~Tastee Inn & Out: Lincoln, NE
    16 oz cottage cheese
    16 oz sour cream
    1/4 t celery salt
    1/4 t onion salt
    1/4 cup or less milk
    1/4 t pepper
    1/2 t salt
    1/2 t accent
    1/2 envelope lipton onion soup mix

    Put cottage cheese in bowl with 1 T milk. Mix until it doesn't look like cottage cheese. Reserve remaining milk. Add all other ingredients. Mix at high speed until sour cream rises. Add remaining milk as needed while mixing.


    5 lbs yellow onions
    1 1/2 lb white flour
    1 1/2 cup water
    4 1/2 t sugar
    1 3/4 t salt
    1 1/2 cup milk
    1 T melted crisco

    Peel onions and cut into wedges top to bottom. Seperate layers and put into plastic bag containing 1/4 cup flour. Mix remaining flour, water, sugar , salt and milk. Mix until smooth (batter should be thick, like pancake batter) Add crisco and mix together. Dip wedges into batter and deep fry until golden brown. Drain.

  25. I have a similar recipe which I've always called 'brown gravy sloppy Joes'.

  26. I have a similar recipe which I've always called 'brown gravy sloppy Joes'.


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