If you grew up in Sioux City, Ia. like I did, then you are aware of the mecca that SCIA is for comfort food. I may be biased, but you haven't lived until you've had a Milwaukee Wiener House hot dog, a Coney dog, Jerry's Pizza, El Fredo's Pizza, Sneaky's Chicken, onion chips from Tastee's, and a raised doughnut from Sunkist Bakery. But don't forget to include one of the biggest icons of SCIA comfort food: a loosemeat sandwich. There is none better, IMHO, than the Charlie Boy served at Miles Inn.
Here's a rough indication of the popularity of this loosemeat sandwich. Awhile back I created a fan page for the Charlie Boy on Facebook. I was having trouble sleeping one night, and I made the page on a whim. Many of my high school and college classmates and other friends joined, and their friends joined, and their friends joined, and so on, and so on, and so on. The page now has over 2,600 fans.
Let's just say the Charlie Boy is nearly synonymous with what I consider to be one of the best mid-sized cities for comfort food, SCIA.
But I digress. Now that I'm an expatriate, I have come up with a recipe that is loosely based on the Charlie Boy and that uses many ideas from various Charlie Boy recipes I have come across over the years. Unfortunately it's difficult to do a taste comparison when my kitchen is in Mankato, Mn. and a fresh, tasty Charlie Boys is nearly 200 miles away in SCIA. But my family enjoys this recipe when I make it.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 small onion, finely-chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- water to cover mixture
- Pour oil into a large skillet and sprinkle the salt into the oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add ground beef and brown, working the beef to break it into small bits.
- Add mustard, horseradish, white vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and enough water to just cover the mixture. Mix well and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all the water has boiled away, usually about 15-20 minutes. Serve on warm hamburger buns.
If you prefer your loosemeats to not be so loose, you can stir in a little Wondra or cornstarch at the end of the cooking.
Miles Inn serves their Charlie Boys with the customer's choice of onion, pickle, ketchup, and American cheese. I also think a bacon-cheese Charlie Boy would be fabulous, but you'll have to make those at home since Miles doesn't serve theirs with bacon. Miles also serves their sandwiches with a literally ice-cold schooner of ice-cold beer.
As always, comments on and suggestions for improving the recipe are appreciated. Bon appetit!