Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vegetarian Maid Rites-aka Loose Meat Sandwiches

What you call this sandwich will depend where you're from. In Iowa, it is a Maid Rite, in Nebraska, a Loose Meat. I don't know what they call it elsewhere. It is a well-seasoned beef mince and onions served on a hamburger bun. It must be a proper hamburger bun-if you fancy it up with sourdough, or rye, or "artisan" style crusts, it will not be special. The softness of the bun is crucial to the overall effect. That said, the beef is less important. I've had success with soya crumbles from the freezer case, but if you're adventurous and wish to experiment with TVP, it would likely produce a good substitute. If you keep the onions and the bun a constant, you'll have the overall flavour that makes a Maid Rite distinctive. I'll provide a hamburger bun recipe that I've used for years, but this is a case where store-bought might be the superior option, if allergies don't prohibit the purchase of such luxuries. As for the brand of imitation mince I use-Light Life is my hands-down favourite, but their products are hard to find where I live. I can't see much difference between Boca, and Morningstar, as I've used both without any obvious problems. Boca tends to be a bit pricier, but it goes on sale regularly. I'm not being compensated in any way by any of these companies.

For the Hamburger Buns:

6-8 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
2 cups warm water
3/4 cup corn oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons salt
3 large eggs

In a bowl, combine yeast and water-let stand 5 minutes until foamy. Add oil, sugar, salt, and eggs. With a hand mixer, beat well. Add the flour a cup at a time until you've added about 3 cups. At this point, turn up the mixer and beat the hell out of it for about five minutes. Add remaining flour by hand until you have a dough that is firm enough to knead, but not dry. The dough will loose stickiness as you work it, but go easy on the flour until you are certain you require it (you thought I'd say, "knead" it. Ha, ha).

When your kneads have been satisfied (sorry) place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover it with clingfilm, and let it rise until doubled-about an hour.

\Punch the dough down, and divide into 18 balls (you can make them smaller if you wish). Shape the balls as you would for rolls, pulling the dough beneath to make a smooth surface. Press the ball flat between your hands, and place on a buttered pan. Cover lightly, and let rise until doubled-about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake buns 10-15 minutes, ot until nicely browned. Cool on racks. These buns freeze perfectly, but we rarely have leftovers.

For the Maid Rites:

1 Package frozen veggie crumbles (imitation mince)
1 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening (This is part of the deal, and you may not substitute)
2 teaspoons salt (you can go less as the soya mince is somewhat salty)
1 large onion, chopped as fine as you can get it
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard (yes, the cheap stuff)
Water to cover

Melt the shortening in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Add the salt, and sti. Add the crumbles, breaking them up as you mix. Add the onion, and as it begins to brown, add the mustard, vinegar, and sugar. Cook a minute or two for it to combine. Add water to cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated out-about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with a choice of ketchup, yellow mustard, and if you can stand them, pickles. Some people like cheese on a Maid Rite. I'll leave that up to you. You'll see from the picture that someone added Velveeta to thier sandwich. I'm not naming names. You'll also note the mash, and gravy because if you're going to cook what was essentially one of the better school dinners when I was a child, you have to be authentic. There's carrots and lima beans hiding behind the sandwich. I opened a tin of fruit cocktail for dessert as well.

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