South Americans – Iron Range Bar Sandwiches

Iron Range bar sandwiches
South Americans: Iron Range bar sandwiches

My dad grew up on the Iron Range of Minnesota, an area known as “up north” that holds a special place in my heart from the many summer vacations I spent there. When I heard about Come, You Taste, a new cookbook filled with family recipes from the Iron Range, I ordered it for my dad right away. 

I remember Dad telling me about South Americans, a popular bar snack back in his day, so I was excited to see a recipe for them in the book. Legend has it that locals would make up dozens of these sandwiches and travel from bar to bar each night selling them to hungry patrons. And apparently they were also a popular “morning after” antidote from a night of over-imbibing.

South Americans are a great way to use up the bounty of tomatoes and peppers at the end of summer. But now that fresh produce is available year round, you can make these any time of year. And trust me–you will want these around all the time!

Be warned: the recipe below makes a LOT of filling, so either cut the recipe in half, throw a giant party (these would be a great Super Bowl party food!) or plan to can or freeze a lot of it.

South Americans

Recipe below, adapted from about Come, You Taste, yields about 7 quarts (28 cups) of filling

½ C to 1 C canola oil
¼ pounds thick-cut bacon, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
6-8 oz pepperoni
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork (or cooked pork shoulder)
4 large green bell peppers
2-3 red bell peppers (1 pound)
4 pounds tomatillos or green tomatoes
4 pounds red, ripe tomatoes
1 bunch celery
3-4 yellow onions (1 pound)
8 oz cremini/baby bella mushrooms (optional)
1-3 fresh jalapenos (adjust quantity to taste; remove seeds for less spicy, keep seeds for more spicy)
1 head escarole or endive
1 bunch curly parsley, minced
Salt and pepper

Heat ½ C oil with the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Pulse the pepperoni in a food processor until finely minced and add to bacon. Stir to combine, then add ground beef and pork, breaking up larger chunks, cooking until evenly browned. If the mixture seems dry, add the rest of the oil.

Transfer to a very large pot or stockpot (approx. 10 quart capacity) and keep over medium heat.

Using the food processor, pulse the vegetables in the order listed above, up through the jalapenos, emptying each one into the stockpot when minced.

Simmer 2-3 hours, tasting several times and adjusting salt and pepper.

When most of the liquid has cooked off, remove from heat and stir in chopped escarole/endive.

Spoon onto sliced baguette, Italian bread or a bun and top with minced parsley. Enjoy!

Yield: 7 quarts/28 cups

 

Step by Step Instructions

Brown the meat as directed above, cooking until evenly browned. The original recipe called for ground pork, but when I realized I didn’t have any, I used some leftover pulled pork instead, and it was terrific!

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If the mixture seems dry, add the rest of the oil. It may seem like a lot now, but after you add all the veggies, you’ll never even notice it.

Transfer browned meat to a very large pot or stockpot and keep over medium heat. I tried making this in a 5-quart pot but ran out of room about halfway through the vegetables. I got by after filling a second pan with it, but I don’t recommend doing that. Just use a huge pot (10 quart capacity or more) from the start.

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Using the food processor, pulse the vegetables in the order listed above, up through the jalapenos, emptying each one into the stockpot when minced.

Simmer 2-3 hours, tasting several times and adjusting salt and pepper.

When most of the liquid has cooked off, remove from heat and stir in chopped escarole/endive and parsley.

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I think these taste best served open faced on a toasted sliced baguette or Italian bread, but you can certainly use them as a filling for a bun or bread. Enjoy!

Iron Range bar sandwiches

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