RANT #6 - Where's the (Hot) Beef?
I consider myself an expert on The Hot Beef Sandwich. A person may think this isnít an important subject for a rant, but it is the little things added one to another which become big things and are leading to the end of the civilized world as we have known it.
In PC world, the Hot Beef Sandwich just doesnít fit in and the proof of this is how low itís stature has sunk in the PC centers of the United States. Places like California.
There are some things done to Hot Beef Sandwiches that are just wrong. At the top of the list is THE OPEN FACE HOT BEEF SANDWICH! This isnít even really a sandwich. A sandwich is something between two pieces of bread. Open face is really just al pile of bread and beef covered with gravy.
Next we have the mashed potatoes. They have to be real or a top quality instant. If they have a lump or two it is an asset. The problem with bad instant mashed potatoes is their consistency after covering them with gravy. They turn into a sort of gravy-flavored, brown cream of wheat. Disgusting.
There is also an import nexus between the sandwich and the potatoes. If your restaurant is doing it right, the sandwich (bread on bottom and top with meat in between) should be cut on the diagonal and the potatoes placed between the sliced sandwich.
Then real gravy is drench over the sandwich and potatoes. This is a real Hot Beef Sandwich.
A couple of further points. Since there are very few steam-table restaurants left you can count on a microwave being used somewhere along the process. Microwave the gravy so itís hot. Thatís fine. Microwave the beef and it gets tough and loses itís original flavor. Once that beef was put in the refrigerator you know a Blue Ribbon Hot Beef was an impossibility. Nuking the mashed potatoes is an iffy situation on which my opinion is yet to jell. Fresh and never refrigerated would be best, I think.
So thatís my opinion on the Hot Beef. Try to get it at a restaurant that serves a lot of them like truck stops and independents. Avoid Country Kitchens or Dennyís franchise type places. And by the way. Hot Meat Loaf sandwiches can be pretty good. I donít like pork and turkey is only okay once a year.
My nephew, Brandon, says he has found the ultimate Hot Beef in southern Minnesota just south of Minneapolis. Iíll find out the name of the restaurant from him and add it to this rant. (He says their onion rings are awesome too) Update 2003 - It's Wampach's in Shakopee and the onion rings ARE terrific. The HBS, though, is just pedestrian...good, but not great!
The worst HB Iíve ever eaten was at a Greyhound Bus Depot in 1957. It just tasted wrong. The two best HBís Iíve ever eaten were at The Pickwick in Duluth, Minnesota and The Blackstone (I think thatís right) in Green Bay, Wisconsin .
I hope there is a real beef, real gravy, real mashed potato, properly constructed, cut and slathered Hot Beef Sandwich in your future, real soon.