Posted by: Erica Retrochef | December 3, 2012

Beef Pinwheels

Well this just looks pretty and festive, doesn’t it?

Beef Pinwheels at MidCentury Menu

Meat and sides all rolled into one — literally — main dish. And then, apparently served with a dish of ketchup.

1 pound hamburger
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted fat
6 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons tomato juice or milk
1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes, seasoned
1-1/2 cups mashed peas, seasoned
Butter or margarine, melted

Mix together all but the last 3 ingredients. Pat out on waxed paper to form rectangular sheet 1/2 inch thick. Spread mashed potatoes on crosswise half of meat. Spread other half with mashed peas. Roll meat firmly, jelly-roll fashion, starting with the end covered with peas. Wrap in waxed paper and chill several hours. When ready to cook, cut with sharp knife into 6 1-inch slices. Place on preheated broiler, 3 to 4 inches below source of heat. Brush with melted butter and broil slowly about 5 minutes. Turn and brush again with melted butter and finish broiling.


See what I did there? Because it’s got peas in it! Haha… ha?

(Wow, just listen to all those crickets…)

Well, at this point it looks like a pretty classic “meat ‘n’ potatoes” meal, right?

We added milk (instead of tomato juice, which I didn’t have) to the meat along with the eggs and breadcrumbs. We did not add extra fat. I’m not particularly fat-phobic, but retro recipes sometimes make the most committed lipidphile raise an eyebrow.

I make some pretty darn tasty mashed potatoes (if I do say so myself). The trick is lots of butter, cream (not fat-phobic, remember?), and liberal salt and garlic powder.

This is the point where Middle Child decided he was very excited about dinner, since it would include mashed potatoes.

I’ve actually never tasted my mashed peas, though. You can see the baby food mill in the picture here — generally, peas are for the baby, and so I have no experience in seasoning them for adult tastes. Plus… they’re peas.

This is the point where Middle Child decided he was not at all excited about dinner.

This is the point where Middle Child just walked out of the room.

I tried to encourage him to come back by explaining there would be mashed potatoes here too, doesn’t that look great?

Yeah… he didn’t buy it.

This is the moment where I realized that I probably should have filled and rolled the … meat log? … in the other direction, because the meat wasn’t fully closing around the fillings. And I wasn’t overly generous with the fillings, either.

After it chilled, I sliced it.

After I sliced it, I buttered it.

This is the point where I wanted to walk out of the room.

But, I didn’t walk out, I broiled the buttered meat slice things.

Hilariously, they managed to become even less cohesive after broiling — the potatoes tried to escape, and the meat circle was all like “well ok I’ll just pop open and spread out, bye bye potatoes.”

So instead of Beef Pinwheels, I made Beef C’s.

This was one of those retro recipes we just couldn’t understand. The mashed potatoes were terrific (because I make terrific mashed potatoes). The mashed peas were terrible (because I don’t make terrific mashed peas). The hamburger probably would have been ok, but there was some strange texture that kept leaving a weird taste in your mouth. Tomato juice may have helped with the flavor, but it wouldn’t have changed that sticky texture. Overall, this was just a gratuitously crazy presentation for a pretty underwhelming dish.

Thanks to Ruth at Mid-Century Menu for posting this. This came from Our Best Hamburger Recipes, so I’d hate to see their worst hamburger recipes…


  1. HI-larious as usual! Some of these old recipes are so convoluted. The home cooks of yore had a lot of time figuring out how to torture food. Nothing wrong with meat loaf and mashed potatoes, side by side, peas optional.

  2. Was with you for the meat and potatoes; had to also leave the room for the butter and the peas…well, if nothing else, you can say that the peas kept their color. That’s always a positive, right? It seems they tried to put a full plate into a single roll… and no one quite knows why. On the surface, it seems like an idea which should have worked.

    • The butter on the pinwheels seemed like it would have been gross, but I thought it actually gave it a nice smell and kept the meat from getting too dry. (Well, the meat was too dry, but without the butter, it would have been even drier.)

  3. When I was married to the first guy, I had to find ways to incorporate vegetables that were not corn. I made a meatloaf ‘roll-up’ with either spinach or chopped broccoli as the color. I’m sure it would have worked great with the potatoes, too. The difference, of course, was that I cooked it like a meatloaf, not a steak 🙂

    Oh – and we’re that family who puts vinegar on their spinach. My kids were well into their teens before it dawned on them that vinegar on the table on meatloaf night wasn’t the norm for the rest of their friends!

  4. Delighted to see you’re still bravely attempting these retro recipes. This one sure is a doozy!

    Thanks for sharing, Erica…

  5. I tried the recipe last night and it was well received. I didn’t slice and broil, though, as its rolled up size was an exact fit for my meatloaf pan. I cooked it that way then sliced it up to serve.

    The only problem was that as the meat cooked the middle top tore open – but the kids got the perfect pin wheel ends.

  6. […] the Beef Pinwheels? Apparently more than one recipe decided to roll green stuff into brown […]

  7. It’s actually a good recipe. Forget the peas, just roll the potatoes in the prepared ground beef, a little paprika, top with the butter and broil. My kids loved it.

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