Hamburger Stuffed French Bread

     When I first started teaching, KPL’s  (Kansas Power & Light) Customer Advisor, Nelda Horan, would visit area Home Economics classes to provide students with insight on all sorts of things, including the proper use of electrical appliances and equipment. She introduced us to the recipe that follows, demonstrating how to use an electric knife to cut the top off the bread, a blender to make breadcrumbs, and she also pointed out the features of the electric range top and oven as she cooked the meat and veggies, and put the bread in to bake. I have made some revisions to the recipe over the years and added some of the creative variations students came up for this satisfying sandwich bread.

Hamburger Stuffed French Bread     Serves about 6 to 8
1 standard loaf French bread
1 lb. ground beef (80 to 85% lean)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 (10.5 oz.) can condensed soup (mushroom, celery,
    tomato, etc.)  or instead use  . .
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
About 2 cups of breadcrumbs (see directions for preparation in step #4 below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh herbs or use about 1 tablespoon of dried herbs
Slices of processed cheese or 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (any type)

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.     Cut a thin slice off the top of the bread (a serrated knife works best or use an electric knife) and put aside.
3.     Hollow out the middle of the French bread  — leaving about 1/4” to 1/2” thickness on the sides and bottom. 
4.     Add the bread (that you pulled from the loaf) to the work bowl of the food processor; turn on processor and run until fine crumbs are formed.  Set aside for use later in recipe.
5.     Add ground beef to a hot skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring as it cooks.  Be sure to use the back of a spoon to break up any large hamburger chunks. Add onions and garlic if used; cook until onions are tender and translucent. 
6.     Add and thoroughly mix in can of condensed soup or the tomato sauce, or ketchup and mustard combination.  
7.     Stir about 2 cups of the reserved breadcrumbs into the meat mixture (add more if needed to thicken mixture). Add the seasonings and mix ingredients well and pack this mixture into French bread shell.
8.     Top with cheese and replace the top of the loaf.
9.     Wrap in aluminum foil and set on a cookie sheet.  Use a potholder to place cookie sheet in preheated oven.   Bake for 20 minutes or until mixture is hot.  The cheese will melt; heating also helps combine the flavors of the various ingredients.
10.  Carefully remove cookie sheet from oven using hot pads.  Place cookie sheet on a cooling rack.
11.  Let cool slightly.  Slice and serve.

Make ahead tip:  Ingredients may be prepared ahead of time (refrigerate meat mixture and wrap bread in air-tight covering); combine at last minute or even combine several hours in advance, wrap and refrigerate.  Add extra baking time to allow for the colder temperature.

Microwave  (instead of heating in the oven):  Heat the filled bun for about 35 seconds.

Variations:  Use small buns or Kaiser roll for individual sandwiches.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Pizza Bread:  Use tomato soup, Italian herb blends, Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese & black olive slices if desired.
  • Cheese Burger Bread:  Use the tomato sauce or ketchup & mustard mixture; top with American cheese slices.
  • Stroganoff Bread:  Sauté chopped green peppers and mushrooms along w/ the onion. Use mushroom soup and a little sour cream if desired.
  • Or, create your own custom filling! What about sausage or ground turkey instead of ground beef? Green or red peppers (cook with the onions), sliced mushrooms (cook with the onions), black olives (stir in before stuffing the bread) – the variations are endless.

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