Brett Cranston (left), owner of Doc’s Stadium, and Mike Holden of Moo Meat prepare Monday to down The Carnivore, their new, jointly designed burger.Yes, it’s that tall: The Carnivore is basically what happens when a cattle rancher approaches a restaurant owner about creating a new kind of burger.

If you die eating this burger, you’ll at least die happy

Local rancher, restaurateur team up for new burger


Conventional wisdom suggests it’s a good thing Brett Cranston is a combat-tested Navy medic when he slides a plate in front of you bearing The Carnivore — a newly devised burger with bacon, ham, two kinds of cheese and a sticky sweet chili sauce atop two thirds of a pound of locally raised beef.

Kinda just makes the heart stop, doesn’t it?

There’s also a version available made with a full pound of beef, if your aorta is feeling up to it.

But the two local men behind the new burger are anything but conventional — if anybody’s gonna black out, they firmly believe it’s going to be from excitement.

Besides, they say, the beef is 90 percent lean.

“It’s a sandwich that will stand up to the hype,” promised Mike Holden, the Scranton cattleman whose hormone-free Moo Meat is the stuff that gives The Carnivore its heft.

Holden hoped to capture some of Greene County’s recent upward momentum in the form of what he calls a “signature sandwich” — something that would be irresistible to visitors.

He found an ally in Cranston, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who owns Doc’s Stadium Bar and Grill on the east side of the Square.

“This needs to be a must-stop,” Holden said Monday.

Doc’s will begin serving The Carnivore and its two offshoots — the bigger, timed challenge version and a smaller one — next week, according to Cranston.

“I’ve had three of them,” Holden said, “and you’d have to go a long way to find a better burger.”

“I’m not sure you can,” he added.

Call it a heartwarming story — of course, that warm sensation may actually just be some blockage — of two local businessmen joining forces.

“It’s two local businesses working together to make a premier product,” Holden explained.

They already have their sights on Iowa’s Best Burger, the annual contest held by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

“With all the excitement going on in Greene County, in my opinion, you need a signature sandwich,” Holden said.

The Greene County Cattlemen meet regularly at Doc’s, leading Holden to approach Cranston with the idea.

“There’s pride that it’s my meat, but I’m doing it to help these guys,” Holden said, “because I think they’re doing a fabulous job here.”

The Carnivore — so named because Cranston had just seen “Jurassic World” — features two third-pound patties of Moo Meat ground beef, two strips of bacon, two slices of ham, one slice of Swiss cheese and one slice of American cheese, with a sweet sauce of Cranston’s making.

“And rabbit food if you must,” Holden said, almost wincing at the thought of leafy greens on the same plate.

A smaller version — The Carni — pares the beef down to a third pound.

The challenge version, with a full pound of ground beef, is topped with four strips of bacon, four slices of ham and four slices of cheese, not to mention a double order of fries on the side.

“We found out we have to use Texas toast,” Holden said of that version. “A bun won’t hold it.”

It’s only right that challengers will receive a T-shirt. They envision one with a Tyrannosaurus rex on it clutching a burger.

“That’s just a fun one,” Holden said. “That’s the one to draw people in who feel like doing something crazy.”

Arguably, though, Holden’s beef has more in common with T.rex’s prehistoric prey than most commercial beef. Triceratops wasn’t riddled with antibiotics, and neither are Holden’s cows.

The family operation incorporated as Moo Meat five or six years ago after years of selling beef word of mouth.

“The meat is under control of one person from conception to consumption,” Holden said.

He breeds the cattle, raises them and picks out “which ones get a one-way ticket to Des Moines.”

There, the Amend Packing Co. — in business in the capital city since 1869 — processes the beef and ages it 20 days before a single cut is ever made.

Moo Meat gives antibiotics to cattle only as needed, Holden said, mirroring the human approach to medicine.

The burger endeavor with Cranston marks Moo Meat’s first foray into a commercial environment.

Last week, 14 local residents were invited to Doc’s at a select time to test out The Carnivore and give their honest feedback.

The test exceeded all expectations.

“When I went to clean the plates,” Cranston said, “there was nothing on the plates.”

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