Guinea Grinder

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My parents were the type that always ordered the same type of food whenever we ate out. They’d have a small conference about what sounded good and make their decision. Mom would always order first so all my Dad would have to say was, “the same as her.” At the time I always thought that was kind of silly but now that my Mom is gone, it seems kind of sweet. One of their favorite places to eat was a local restaurant called The Pizza House. This place had the absolute best pizza ever and served one of my favorite sandwiches, the guinea grinder.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck a guinea grinder is and let me tell you, it’s an Iowa thing. I’ve never seen it on the menu at any restaurant I’ve been to outside the state of Iowa but remember the last time I went to the Iowa State Fair, there was a food vendor selling them with a pretty long line. Basically a guinea grinder is an Italian sandwich which consists of a meat mixture simmered in marinara, loaded into a hoagie roll and topped with mozarella cheese. It sounds really basic but trust me, if made correctly, it one of the most sinful sandwiches you can ever eat that doesn’t involve bacon.

mezzetta pasta sauce

And I’m not kidding when I say this sandwich is easy to make. The most difficult part is picking out what type of marinara sauce to use. I opted for Mezzetta’s Tomato and Sweet Basil. Their sauce doesn’t contain added sugar or tomato paste AND when you pour your sauce into your pan, every bit of it comes out. Unlike other brands I’ve used, a fourth of the sauce doesn’t stick to the side of the jar.

So once you’ve perused the aisles at the grocery store and picked out the perfect sauce, the easy part happens. You brown 1 lb. italian sausage and 1 lb. ground beef together, add some garlic, basil, oregano, a pinch of rosemary and your favorite marinara sauce and let it simmer for an hour. Don’t do what I did the first time and skimp on the simmering time. Those flavors need to meld together so be patient (easier said than done) and walk away from the stove.

guinea grinder recipe


After you’ve tested your patience, it’s time to make up the sandwiches! First thing you should do is prep your bread. This is a trick my Dad used to do with hot dogs so all his toppings wouldn’t ooze out the sides, so all credit goes to him. Pull out the center of the hoagie bun so you have a nice little bed to scoop a bunch of your meat mixture in. Once you’ve loaded up on artery-clogging goodness, layer that sandwich with mozarella cheese.

guinea grinder sandwich recipe

Now this is the second most important part of this recipe, so please don’t do what I did. You’re going to put your guinea grinder in a 350° over for a few minutes to melt the cheese, then you’re going to switch your oven to broil so the cheese and bread toasts up really nice. Make sure you watch your sandwich while the oven is on broil. Those bad boys can ruin your food in a matter of seconds.

I usually don’t serve my guinea grinders with anything else since they are so dense and filling but hey, when in Rome (or Iowa) do what they do…serve it with a heaping pile of fries.

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