The Washington Post

Iowa Loose-Meat Sandwiches

Iowa Loose-Meat Sandwiches 6.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Oct 4, 2016

Not quite a hamburger and not quite a sloppy Joe, this is said to have first been served in the state’s Maid-Rite restaurants.

Serve with mustard and ketchup on the side.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef (20 percent fat)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought no-salt-added chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 split hamburger buns, for serving
  • Dill pickle slices, for garnish


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the ground beef and onion; cook for several minutes, until they have browned, stirring vigorously and breaking up any clumps of meat. The end result should look like lots of small crumbles.

Add the broth, vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, the chipotle pepper, if using, the brown sugar, salt and black pepper, stirring to incorporate. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Use a slotted spoon to pile a large amount of meat atop each bottom bun half. Garnish with a couple of pickle slices, and serve with the top bun.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Big American Cookbook,” by Mario Batali with Jim Webster (Grand Central Life & Style, 2016).

Tested by Jim Webster.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (without the bun): 450

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 35g 54%

Saturated Fat: 12g 60%

Cholesterol: 105mg 35%

Sodium: 430mg 18%

Total Carbohydrates: 5g 2%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 27g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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