Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Iowa Maid Rites


Loose Meat Sandwich.
If you know what this is, you must be from the Midwest.  Here in Iowa there is nothing quite like a loose meat sandwich, or Maid-Rite, as many of us grew up calling them.  This delicious sandwich with meat messily spilling over the edges of the bun is a staple for many Iowan meals.
The Maid-Rite sandwich was popularized back in 1926 by a man named Fred Angell.  He began franchising the idea and a chain of restaurants called Maid-Rite began to spread throughout Iowa.  Today one of the few original shops remains in Marshalltown, Iowa – Taylor’s Maid-Rite.  Several new shops have emerged over the years and have been grandfathered in through the franchise, but Taylor’s is one of the originals and a favorite of many long time Maid-Rite fans.
I have vivid memories of Taylor’s in Marshalltown.  I played softball in high school and our coach was a huge fan of Taylor’s Maid-Rites.   Every time we went to Marshalltown to play a game, we would drop off the freshman and JV teams and our coach and the varsity players would head over to Taylor’s to enjoy a yummy, mouth-watering loose meat sandwich.  That tells you how much he, along with many others, love these sandwiches!
MaidRite-Taylors-Interior (1)
I have a little bit of an obsession with ketchup and eat it on way more things than I should.  Much to my surprise, whenever we would go into Taylor’s there would be no ketchup on the counters.  The only way you could get ketchup was by asking and usually I would be given a hard time by the workers for asking for a bottle.  The traditional, Iowan way to eat a Maid-Rite is with onions, pickles, and mustard.  The story goes that back when the Maid-Rite restaurants first opened, hobos would come in and steal the ketchup bottles that were on the counters to make tomato soup.  The ketchup bottles were quickly nixed from the restaurants.  Most long time Maid-Rite consumers turn their noses up to ketchup saying it ruins the consistency of the meat and makes the Maid-Rite more like a sloppy joe.  I’ve heard that Taylor’s now has ketchup on their counters but many long time patrons are sometimes known to ask the servers to remove the bottles from the location where they are sitting :)
Growing up we ate Maid-Rites all the time, whether it was at the actual sandwich shop (we were lucky enough to have one in Mason City), my mom making her own version, or at the local fairgrounds during our county fair.  Everyone seemed to have loose meat sandwiches.  Anytime I catch the scent of a Maid-Rite it instantly transports me back to my childhood.
Here is an easy Crock Pot Maid-Rite recipe we have enjoyed in our house.  I’ve even learned to enjoy them without ketchup, using the traditional condiments of mustard, onions, and pickles :) It’s easy to throw together and the crock pot takes care of the rest.  You’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip to an authentic Maid-Rite shop here in Iowa!
Here is what you’ll need on your grocery list:
**This recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people.  I give quite a generous portion on large, freshly made bakery buns so we only get about 6 servings out of it, but if you used smaller buns you could serve quite a few more people**
3 lbs Ground Beef
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Beef Bouillon Cube
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube
1  1/2 cups Water
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
Large Hamburger Buns
Add the first nine ingredients to the crock pot.  Stir together to combine ingredients and break up the ground beef.
Cook on High for 4 hours. Stir occasionally to combine ingredients as they cook and to keep the beef from clumping together.  The smell that emerges from the crock pot each time you stir it is to die for!
Serve on hamburger buns…dont’ be shy, the messier it is the more authentic the sandwich!  Serve with condiments of your choice but remember the traditional condiments are pickles and mustard which I highly recommend.

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