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Steamer Hagerstown Maryland

The secret to a Hagerstown steamer

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posted March 27, 2019


Visit Hagerstown  |  Hagerstown, Maryland  |  NTA contact: Audrey Vargason

“Originally the dish was served to the public at Sam’s Busy Corner in Williamsport, Maryland. Sam Eckis returned from World War I and opened the restaurant at a former hotel. Soon after the business opened, he shared food with a hobo passing through town, who gave him a recipe for ‘spoon hamburger,’ which became known as the steamer.” —Joan Knode, Herald Mail, Nov. 12, 2014

If you ask for steamers while visiting Hagerstown and Washington County, Maryland, you’ll be very surprised to learn that what is served is not clams. Everywhere else this dish is called sloppy Joes, and here, our steamers are similar to sloppy Joes but different. What makes them unique to our area is that less is more; they have less stuff in them and a different texture. The secret to a great steamer is to soak the ground beef in water until it is as fine as possible. You can’t have a good steamer if there are clumps in the ground beef.

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
½ cup ketchup

In pot, soak ground beef for approximately 15 minutes until completely fine with no clumps. In colander, drain beef as thoroughly as possible. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper and ketchup. Mix well and simmer until thick and all the water has cooked out. Serve on hamburger roll. Steamers are great with cheese, chopped onions and mustard. 

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Top photo by Joyce White

The view all of the recipes from the 7 distinctive regional dishes feature, click here.