Korean-Inspired Loose Meat Sandwiches: #Sponsored By Farmer Girl Meats

This post is sponsored by Farmer Girl Meats

When Leslie, a third-generation beef producer and owner of Farmer Girl Meats asked if I wanted to partner on a recipe post, I gladly said “Yes.”

Farmer Girl Meats offers a delivery service for Kansas and Missouri pasture-raised meats including beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. Or, if you live near her farm in Warrenton, MO, you can also pick-up your order. Leslie offered to send me two pounds of ground beef from her family’s farm where their cows feed on native prairie grasses.  Meat delivery to St. Louis costs $5 per order, or $25 per year, unlimited.  She let me try it out for free. Learn more about delivery here.

I already had a ground beef recipe in mind so posting about it was a fun swap.  Shortly after Leslie confirmed my contact information, I found a cooler bag waiting by my doorstep. It contained the ground beef chilled with cold packs. I defrosted the meat and started cooking.

In Iowa, I tasted my first loose meat sandwich (also called Maid Rites)
. Let’s be real; the name’s hilariously literal. When I ordered my first loose meat sandwich from a little diner in North Iowa, I received a bun overfilled with loose, ground beef and topped with onion, pickles, and yellow mustard. This particular restaurant’s beef is mostly unseasoned but somehow the sandwich works and I craved them from time to time. You can also add cheese.

Loose meat sandwiches are similar in style to Sloppy Joe’s. I actually like them better, preferring recipes similar to what Debbie’s Midwestern Kitchen prepares. Debbie seasons the ground beef with onion, soy sauce, Worcestershire, a touch of brown sugar and cooks it low and slow in a crock pot so that the natural beef flavor shines.

I put a Korean twist on this dish. Like Debbie’s, my version is still seasoned with soy and Worcestershire, in addition to freshly grated ginger, garlic, and gochujang. To really make the sandwich pop, try spreading the top bun with a little bit of gochujang and garnishing with kimchi and marinated cucumber slices.

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Of course, you don’t have to cook the ground beef in a crock pot. If you want to expedite the process you could cook it on the stove-top. I like how the crock pot method seems to produce a fluffier texture. Once the beef is mostly browned and crumbled, I leave it on low while I run errands or work. If the meat is already fully cooked by the time I need to leave, I’ll leave the crock pot on warm until dinner.

The finished beef has a gentle salty-sweet flavor similar to teriyaki or beef bulgugi. Like I said, you can really intensify the flavor by adding kimchi, gochujang, and marinated cucumbers. Or, you can add more gochujang to the crock pot.

I served our sandwiches with green salads. It’s possible that I allowed a little bit of ranch dressing to intermingle with my sandwich. Try it!

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Loose Meat Sandwiches With A Korean Twist
Serves approximately six (plus some leftovers)

Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground beef
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB brown sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
1-2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 onion, minced
1 tsp gochujang, or more to taste
Worcestershire sauce, a couple of dashes
Black pepper
Water
Hamburger buns, toasted
Kimchi
Marinated cucumbers (below)

Instructions:

  1. Place ground beef in crock pot.
  2. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, onion and gochujang to the beef.
  3. Season with a few grinds of black pepper and add a little bit of water.
  4. Set crock pot to low.
  5. As the ground beef cooks, break it up with a spoon every so often. My crock pot seemed to fully cook the beef in about three hours. I let it simmer on low for a while and flipped the switch to warm when I left for the afternoon.
  6. Taste and adjust seasons as necessary.

Marinated Cucumbers
There is no exact science to my marinated cucumbers. I start by adding these ingredients to thinly sliced cucumbers, taste, and season as desired. Once the cucumbers sit for a few hours, it’s easier to tell if you need to add more salt or vinegar. 

Ingredients:
Thinly sliced cucumbers. I used about four Persian cucumbers. These are small and their thin skins don’t taste bitter.
Rice wine vinegar
Grated garlic & ginger or dashes of garlic and ginger powder.
Sugar
Salt
Crushed red pepper

Instructions:

  1. Toss cucumbers with enough rice wine vinegar to moisten.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, and salt to taste.
  3. Let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  4. Taste and add more seasonings as desired.

Thanks again Farmer Girl Meats for partnering with me on this post! 

You Do You

“You do you.”

This is the best blogging advice I’ve ever received. This is the best life advice I’ve ever received.

It’s hard to believe I began this blog over five years ago. I was in a really different place as a newish college grad. It never occurred to me that I’d live anywhere other than the Twin Cities. I was completing my first year of graduate school towards a M.A. of Marriage and Family Therapy and apprenticing with one of Minnesota’s only Registered Herbalists.

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New college grad. Footloose and fancy free at the MN State Fair.

I tried to follow in the footsteps of my favorite food bloggers of the time who wrote about dining experiences. For someone who had never published anything online before, this struck me as exciting (and terrifying). If you take a look at my old posts, you’ll find many overwrought restaurant reviews. I’ve since removed the most unnecessarily snarky ones. They reflected my experiences with 100% truthfulness, but, three-five years later, we’ve all had time to grow.

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Eating Chicken Wings At The Bar: Cleveland-Heath in Edwardsville, Illinois

I’m going to tell you a secret.

I used to be terrified of eating alone. So terrified that I absolutely wouldn’t do it. In fact, I once spent an entire college May term eating meals alone in my dorm room. All of my suite-mates and best friends traveled to New York City and left me solo. The thought of walking into a cafeteria looking for somewhere to sit by myself made me panic so badly I just couldn’t do it.

Now, I enjoy dining and traveling solo from time to time. It took me a while to get here, though. Walking into a party, solo, though; I’d rather die.

Last week I felt like treating myself on one of my days off. So, I did. I was in the mood for another miniature road trip. This time I headed to Edwardsville, Illinois to eat lunch at Cleveland-Heath.

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My Baked Doughnut Confessions

I’ve been riding a baked doughnut pan roller coaster of emotions.

I have always loved doughnuts. In fact, I even work at a specialty doughnut shop. The owner typically makes fried cake and yeast donuts, but also bakes these little, gluten-free donuts on Fridays. I’ve never tried one because they’re in such high demand and limited quantities; I want the people who actually need them to have them. What I have noticed is that they are light in texture and fluffy. I began to assume baked donuts were all just so.

Baked donuts enticed me at work while baked doughnut recipes filled my social media feeds. Finally, I bought a doughnut pan for myself. It only cost about $7 on Amazon. When the package arrived, I ripped open the box with zeal and admired my new pan. I hugged the pan and reassured it that we’d have a happy life together.

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You’ll Have To Leave Cedar Point For This Pizza: Brick Oven Bistro

Eight months later and I still think about that pizza I ate at The Brick Oven Bistro in Sandusky, OH.

Last September, I drove to Ohio to join a few North Iowa Blogger friends at BloggyCon held at Cedar Point Amusement Park. With Cedar Point’s season opening quickly approaching next week, I encourage you to venture into town and enjoy a meal at The Brick Oven Bistro.

The one dinner I ate in Cedar Point was composed of a side of french fries and goopy cheese sauce. I had taken one look at the pallid, $15 burger combos being served around me and just couldn’t do it. Park food is certainly convenient, especially when you’re hungry and tired. But it’s also expensive since attendees are a captive audience. My recommendation is to budget for park snacks and beverages and head into Sandusky for dinner.

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