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Ask anyone in Rochester New York if they know what a garbage plate is, and they will say yes. It is a famous food in the area and well-liked by almost everyone. (except my dad) Tahou’s restaurant opened in downtown Rochester in 1918. Prompted by college students, Nick Tahou created the Garbage Plate. A plate with home fries, macaroni salad, two burgers or hot dogs, and slathered with a spicy meat sauce. It’s a legendary.

Every town surrounding Rochester has its own “hots” place: Empire Hots, Irondequoit Hots, Webster Hots…And each place has its own version of a Garbage Plate…Trash Plate…Rubbish Plate…etc. It’s a favorite late night food, dinner food, anytime food. It will fill you up so make sure you come with an appetite!

Since living in Kansas, garbage plates are definitely one thing that Liz and I miss about home. This week, since we were feeling especially homesick, we decided to make our own homemade version of a garbage plate. I searched the internet for recipes and dove in!

First up is the meat sauce. Meat sauce is the amazing topping for any garbage plate. Its a delicious blend of spices, ground beef, onions, and yumminess. I always ask for extra meat sauce on my garbage plates!

After completing the sauce, I gathered the other ingredients. Hamburgers, potatoes, macaroni salad, ketchup and mustard. It was hard waiting to eat during the preparation. Everything smelled so mouth-watering.

Garbage Plate Meat Sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, diced or pressed through a garlic press
  1. In a large skillet, fry onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add meat and spices, stirring constantly with fork to keep the beef broken up. Once the meat browns, add water, tomato paste and brown sugar. Simmer 10 minutes. Go through it with an immersion blender to give it a finer texture similar to triple ground beef. Simmer 1 hour, adding water if necessary to keep it moist but not soupy.
  2. Add more spices to taste if necessary. We like our meat sauce spicy, so we added quite a bit more cayenne and chili powder. I would have added some sriracha if we had it. Maybe next time!

I chopped the potatoes, boiled them until tender, then roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some Dinosaur bbq cajun seasoning.

While the potatoes were getting brown and crispy, I grilled four hamburgers and topped them with cheese.

When everything is cooked, its time to assemble. Cover half a plate with mac salad and the other half with the potatoes. Place two burgers on top and ladle the meat sauce over the top of everything. As mentioned before, I like extra meat sauce. Then drizzle with ketchup and mustard (if desired) and dig in!

Kansas’ very first garbage plates…and Laura’s!