Maid-Rites. Depending on what part of the state you call home, loose meat sandwiches are called Maid-Rites or Taverns. This savory blend of meat and seasonings is piled high on a soft bakery-style bun. In 1926, the idea for this famous sandwich came from a Muscatine butcher, Fred Angell. Legend has it he offered one of his sandwiches to a delivery man who enjoyed it so much that he said, “Fred, you know this sandwich is made right!” To this day, you will find this sandwich offered on local diner menus and at family gatherings across the state. Learn more about Taylor’s Maid-Rite in Marshalltown, which has served their signature loose meat sandwich for more than 90 years.
Grilled Burgers, Sweet Corn and BLT’s. Comfort food doesn’t limit itself to a specific time of year. If you dine during the summer or early fall months in Iowa, you’ll likely enjoy a lunchtime spread with BLT’s and sweet corn. For supper, sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper, more sweet corn and grilled burgers are often on the menu.
We would love to know about your favorite comfort foods. Share those foods, memories or recipes with us at email@example.com, and we just might publish your story and recipe! If we publish your content, we’ll award you with an Iowa Food & Family Project prize!
Iowa Ham Balls
Makes 18-24 ham balls
- 2 pounds ham loaf (this is a ground ham mixture that can be purchased at most Iowa grocery stores)
- 1 pound ground beef (or ground pork or turkey)
- 2 cups crushed butter crackers
- ¼ cup minced dehydrated onion
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1½ cups milk
- 1½ cups ketchup
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine ham loaf, ground beef, crackers, onion, egg and milk. Toss mixture with a fork, only until combined.
Shape mixture into 1/4-cup sized balls. Place in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile, combine ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard powder in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring, then immediately remove from heat.
After the ham balls have baked for 45 minutes, remove from the oven. Pour brown sugar glaze over semi-baked ham balls.
Return baking dish to oven for 15 minutes to set the glaze and finish cooking ham balls.
Ham balls are done baking when a digital instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F or above.
Once baking is complete, remove baking dish from oven and cool for a few minutes. Serve ham balls warm with classic sides like buttermilk mashed potatoes and steamed corn.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Yield: Makes one large mixing bowl of mashed potatoes
- 5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, quartered
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- Fresh chives or green onion tops for garnish
Bring four quarts of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt. Boil potatoes for 15 minutes, or until tender.
Strain potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Beat or mix potatoes lightly for 30 seconds or until no large lumps remain and the potatoes are somewhat smooth. Add buttermilk, butter, seasoned salt, pepper and salt to potatoes.
Mix only until combined. Garnish with chopped fresh chives or green onion tops.