Taverns – great sammies!

Taverns – great sammies!

Although “taverns” are popular more in Iowa, with all the slyder recipes out there – taverns are quite popular all over. It’s the Iowians way of saying “sloppy joe” or “loosemeat sandwich.”

Usually made with loose meats and many times not seasoned but topped with pickles, ketchup and onions.
When done right, a tavern can be a cacophony of flavors. The seasoning of the beef can make the sandwich salty, spicy or peppery, while the mustard give it a distinct tang and the pickle a terrific tinge of tartness.

OK, what’s the difference between a tavern and a sloppy joe, you ask?

A sloppy joe – popularized by novelist Ernest Hemingway after the sandwich turned up on the menu at his favorite haunt, Key West, Fla.’s, Sloppy Joe’s Bar in the mid 1930s – is simply loosemeat that’s been sweetened by a tomato sauce.

Devotees of the loosemeat describe taverns as being “a sloppy joe without any of the slop.”

The sloppy joe made its way out of barrooms and into the American dining rooms when housewives discovered the recipe at the height of WWII.

With ground beef rationed during the war, homefront home cooks were always looking for ways to stretch their meat supply. Adding a tomato sauce, they figured, made their ration of meat last a bit longer.

Tavern connoisseurs know tomato sauce masks the taste of the meat, rather than enhance its flavor.

Taverns, done right, should taste of two things: seasoned, steamed beef and a light pool of grease.

Yup, you heard us right. In this health-conscious age, the tavern is a throwback to an earlier time.

Though the fat is drained from the loosemeat, a tavern should still be moist enough to make your cardiologist concerned.

The recipes are quite similar – but I am sharing some that I have.

Super Bowl tomorrow – taverns sound good –

Blue Mill Tavern Taverns
• 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

  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 – which are traditionally steamed for loosemeats - some like them toasted or buttered and grilled (butter and toast buttered side down in a pan).
  11. When buns are warm, put yellow mustard on them and add some dill pickle slices.

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.


1 lb. hamburger
1 lg. onion, diced
1/4 c. catsup
2 tsp. prepared mustard
4-5 drops liquid smoke
1 can chicken gumbo soup (non other)

Brown hamburger and drain. Add remaining ingredients. Cook slowly for 30 minutes, adding water as needed. Serve on warm buns. Freezes well.

1 lb. hamburger
1/2 c. catsup
1/2 c. water
Pinch salt
Sm. amount pepper
1 sm. onion
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. mustard

If hamburger is not real lean cook until gray and drain off excess fat. Dice onion into water. Add catsup, salt, pepper, chili powder and bring to a boil. Add hamburger and boil 5 minutes. Add mustard last and stir well. Serve in warm buns.

Spanish Taverns
1 c. catsup
1 c. water
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. chili powder
2 lbs. ground beef
2 tbsp. prepared mustard

Mix catsup, water, minced onion, and chili powder in a saucepan, and simmer 15 minutes. Work in ground beef–no need to brown first. Add mustard. Simmer 45 minutes.
Serve on buns.


1 pt water
1 large onion
3/4 c ketchup
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp bourbon sugar
Pinch salt
pinch pepper
8 hoagie buns or kaiser rolls

1 c sugar
5 drops of a good style Kentucky bourbon

Brown the ground beef. Drain and set aside.
In a saucepan combine water, onion ketchup, chili powder and bourbon sugar.
Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes.
Add ground beef, mustard, salt, pepper.
Cook slowly for 10 to 15 minutes.
Put on rolls and serve hot with french fries or onion rings.

Put the sugar into a food processor, Add the 5 drops of bourbon. Mix well until the bourbon is incorporated in the sugar. Store in a air tight container.
Use in spice rubs or any meat dish like sloppy joe’s or your favorite hamburger, great on a meat loaf.

• 2 Tbsps. oil
• 2 small onions, minced (reserve some for garnish)
• 2 lbs.85% lean ground beef
• 2 Tbsps. yellow mustard
• 2 Tbsps. white vinegar
• 2 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
• salt and pepper to taste
• 2 (14.5) oz cans low sodium beef broth
• 6 hamburger buns
• Sliced pickles
Heat oil in a large saute pan or skillet on medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent Add ground beef and cook until browned, use a potato masher to crumble the meat Mix in the other ingredients (except broth) until well combined Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium/low to low and simmer until all the liquid is gone. Serve on toasted hamburger buns topped with minced onions and pickles.

• 5 lbs. lean ground beef
• 3 medium onions, chopped fine
• 1 T. salt
• 1 T. creamed horseradish
• 1 T. dry mustard
• 1/4 tsp. black pepper
• 1/2 c. ketchup’
• 1 c. water
• 1 heaping T. Accent (monosodium glutamate)
• Put meat and onions in a kettle.
• Put salt, creamed horseradish, dry mustard, black pepper and ketchup in a 16 oz. measuring cup. Mix and pour directly over meat. Stir with a wooden spoon.
• Add 1 c. water to the same cup and stir around to get all the ingredients off the sides. Pour over meat.
• Stir in Accent.
• Stir side of pan a lot and stir the raw meat often until meat begins to boil. (This is to assure that the chunks are small - you don’t want large chunks.)
• Cover kettle and boil 25 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns with a slice of cheese.


• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, chopped finely (reserve approx. 2 tablespoons raw)
• 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
• 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
• 1 tablespoon white vinegar
• 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 14.5 oz. can of beef broth
• 2 teaspoons brown sugar
• 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
• Salt
• Pepper
• Dill pickles, sliced
Heat the vegetable oil on medium heat in a large saute pan. Add onions, sauting until translucent. Add beef and cook until meat is no longer pink. Use a potato masher to break up the larger chunks of beef. Add the mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, then add the beef broth and sugar. Continue cooking until broth is reduced. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on buns, topped with ketchup and/or mustard, raw onions and pickle slices.


2 pounds ground beef
1 cup water
3/4 cup catsup
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder to taste
1 onion minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a good-sized pan. Crumble the ground beef and add it to the water, along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring the mixture back to a boil for a minute or two, stirring to mix well and break up any lumps of meat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

2 lbs. hamburger
1 large onion
Water, beef or chicken stock
Finely mince onion. Mix onion and hamburger in a heavy pot. Cover with water or stock and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until the mixture turns grainy, stirring whenever you happen to pass by the stove. This could take hours. After the beef has broken down into tiny particles, uncover and let the water cook out until the meat is thick enough to serve on a bun. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with mustard and a pickle slice or two.


2 lbs. hamburger browned & drained
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix
1 cup water (add more water if needed, don’t let it simmer dry)
1-2 TBSP mustard
2 tsp horseradish (secret ingredient)

Simmer in a saucepan for 20 min or let sit in a crock pot.


Brown one pound of hamburger with 1 medium chopped onion (and one rib of finely chopped celery if you have some on hand). Drain.
1 tsp vinegar (brown or white)
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup catsup
1 small can of condensed tomato soup (10.75 oz size)

Simmer for at least one half hour. Using about 1/3 cup of the mixture per hamburger bun, this recipe will fill about 10 or 12 small buns. For a large group, recipe may doubled, tripled, etc.


2.8 lbs Lean ground beef, cooked & drained
1 can Campbell’s light chicken gumbo soup
1 Cup - Heinz Ketchup
2 Tbsp - Distilled White Vinegar
2 Tbsp - Brown Sugar
1 tsp - Chili powder

Cook and Drain Ground Beef. Mix all ingredients together in a roaster. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours. Stir after one hour. Freezes very well. Makes 16, 1/2 cup servings.

Taverns are taverns – Made Rites are one as well. To me – a true tavern is your ground chuck/sirloin, onion and mustard with dill pickles. To each his own – there really is no “ultimate” tavern – sometimes the true recipes disappear because of all the tweaking – I enjoy the oldies but goodies. Have I “toyed” with the recipes? Dunno what you want to call what I do. But I have come up with dozens of recipes for taverns made differently. I like to play with recipes – what can I say? And because they are not really “taverns” I need to come up with a name for them all – still thinking – calling them fake taverns doesn’t sound too good!