This has travelled up from our friend Mike Amason in South Carolina!

OK – “Manwich” was already taken.  I needed a name for a semi-liquid hamburger in Sunday clothes.   I thought about calling it “Mikewich”, but it seemed a little egotistic, even for me.  I was toying with the idea of a riff on “Manwich”, such as “Manwich, Except With Flavor”, when She Who Must Be Obeyed looked over my shoulder and demanded to have the right to do the final edit.  “Personwich” it became.

I hate eating out of cans, and I had enough practical experience doing so in my college years to know the difference.  If it can be made from scratch it satisfies both the soul and the belly, which is a not altogether bad thing.  So let us begin.  This will feed four people well and there will be leftovers for a midnight run on the fridge (always a major consideration in my house).

First we need buns, and Wonder Bread just won’t do.  These are a simple whole wheat bread recipe with a1/4 cup olive oil added to the basic dough to keep it moist, and they are worked slightly wet (the dough sticks slightly to the rolling pin) to keep them light.  Roll the dough out @ ½ inch thick and cut them out.  If you don’t have a cookie cutter large enough, cut them into squares with a sharp knife or ad lib like I did in the picture.  The Tupperware container I used is 4” wide and performed beautifully.  My large cookie cutter apparently took a holiday.  Let rise 45 minutes or so and bake at 375 degrees for around twenty minutes until the tops brown.  If you are feeling gluttonous, make 2-1/2” diameter buns and you can eat six sandwiches for the same effort as one large one.  Decidedly more satisfying.

Now. On to the filling.

For 12 Sandwiches:

  • 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Two stalks celery
  • One large onion
  • One medium bell pepper, red or green
  • Three large tomatoes or one can diced tomatoes
  • Two cans tomato paste
  • Two red chili peppers, fresh or dried
  • 1-1/2 tsp dried oregano or one Tbsp fresh
  • 1-1/2 oz cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Ground beef comes in all grades.  For recipes like this I prefer a higher fat content to add flavor.  You can use ground chuck or some exotic 90/10 ratio, but cedar chips would probably make a better burger.  Brown the meat well in a heavy skillet and drain well.

While it is cooking, Chop a large onion, a bell pepper, and a stalk and a half of celery.  If you have fresh tomatoes, by all means enjoy your bounty, but canned diced tomatoes will work also. Fresh tomatoes go into the teflon pan wioth the other veggies.  Canned tomatoes are added after the ground beef.  Cook chopped veggies in the olive oil in a stickproof frying pan with a cover on medium heat for ten minutes or until the onions and celery begin to get translucent. Add the cooked and well-drained ground beef and canned tomatoes if that is what you are using.  Toss in the two cans tomato paste and  fold it into the veggie and meat mixture until smooth.  If the mixture seems too dry, thin with a small amount of tomato sauce.  If it is too wet, add instant mashed potatoes a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.  Serve with fresh buns and dill pickles – strips, chips, whole, makes no difference.  Add a side of the potato salad, and you have a simple meal.

Ahhh…OOPS!  Forgot the potato salad.  Sorry about that.

A Simple Potato Salad

Basic Ingredients:

Three pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cubed, boiled in salted water, drained, and chilled in the freezer for ½ hour.  You already had these boiling when you were cutting out the buns, BTW, just in case you were wondering, and two eggs went in the pot with the potatoes to boil.

  • One stalk celery, chopped
  • One large yellow onion, chopped
  • Two hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • ½ cup Mt. Olive sweet salad cubes.  DO NOT use sweet pickle relish. It is far too wet. If salad cubes are not available, buy whole sweet pickles and drain and chop them yourself.
  • ¾ -1 cup mayonnaise, Duke’s if here in the South, Hellman’s in the North, Miracle Whip if your tastebuds are shot
  • Scant ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Paprika to sprinkle on top

Put all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat potato cubes well. Sprinkle with paprika or garnish with bell pepper rings and/or hard-boiled egg slices.

Now – Slice bun, stuff with filling, add a scoop of potato salad to the plate with a couple of pickles, enjoy.