grown-up sloppy joes.


sloppy joes aren’t exactly synonymous with gourmet fare. rather, the sloppy joe is a sandwich that often reminds us of our childhood. perhaps it was the tuesday special at the school cafeteria, or the quick and easy meal that our mothers would throw together and serve atop white hamburger buns between the endless errands and sports practices and music lessons that filled up an afternoon.

however you best remember it, sloppy joes more than likely made an appearance in your childhood at some point or another. some recall them with delight, reveling in the unabashed messiness of the sandwich. others remember the sloppy joe as fatally flawed; with an overpowering ketchup flavor, or a thin sauce that failed to bind the ingredients, yielding a joe far, far too sloppy to enjoy.

well, i’m here to redeem this humble sandwich. to elevate, to intensify, and to make the sloppy joe a meal with depth and complexity.

no, these aren’t the sloppy joes from your elementary school cafeteria. they’re so, so much more. and i guarantee they are far more delicious than you remember them to be.

grown-up sloppy joes

what you’ll do

in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. let the oil heat up, it’ll be ready when you sprinkle a few drops of cold water into the pan and you get a nice sizzle. add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and salt and pepper to taste. saute until they just start to soften and the onions begin to get translucent, about 2 minutes. add the garlic, and cook about a minute more, just until the garlic becomes fragrant and lovely.

add the ground beef, and break up with a wooden spoon. cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes. add the brown sugar, tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder and worcestershire sauce, mix until incorporated. add the tomato sauce, and bring to a boil.

reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened.

if you’d like, toast the buns under the broiler until they’re nice a brown, which should only take a minute or so. we were lazy and very hungry, so we omitted this step.

when the sloppy joe mixture is nice and thick, take off the heat and spoon onto the buns.

this recipe will feed four people, so it just might be the most wonderfully unexpected meal to serve for company, paired with a fresh green salad and a pitcher of dark beer. serve on paper plates, since, you know, they’re sloppy. plus, there’s just something so nostalgic about paper plates; i suppose there’s something slightly adolescent about not doing wanting to do the dishes, and i am definitely okay with that once in a while.

also, if you are so inclined, you could definitely add some smoked cheddar cheese atop the sloppy joes. i chose not to, because i’m not a fan of cheese.

i know, i know, your shock is palpable. i’m one of those crazy people that doesn’t like cheese, milk, sour cream, or yogurt…there’s something about the tanginess and the viscosity that makes me shudder.

wait, what’s that? i’m the only person in the world that abhors all of those ingredients? well, i’m sorry. if it’s any consolation, my dairy product weirdness just means there’s more cheese and milk in the world for everyone else to enjoy. so, you’re welcome!

but back to the sloppy joes. these joes are delicious, amazing, and damn good. it’s a sneaky way to eat a bunch of vegetables, you only have to dirty one skillet, and trust me, these sloppy joes make for quite a satisfying and filling meal.

so in summary, make these sloppy joes and you won’t have to do the dishes, you’ll be reminded of childhood bliss, and you’ll feel like a kitchen gourmet for making them from scratch.

who doesn’t love a happy ending?

grown-up sloppy joes

yield: four sandwiches

pairs well with: dark beer

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, diced small, yielding approximately 2 cups (i used vidalia onions)

2 large celery stalks, diced small, yielding approximately 2 cups

2 green bell peppers, diced small, yielding approximately 2 cups

8 cloves of garlic, minced (we really, really like garlic. feel free to use less!)

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

4 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 cups tomato sauce, plain (i used canned, low sodium sauce)

3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. tomato paste

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
 (ground chicken, turkey, or veggie crumbles are a great substitute)
kosher salt, to taste

fresh cracked pepper, to taste

4 sandwich rolls, split (i used onion kaiser rolls, but brioche, challah, or italian rolls would be great too!)
smoked cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:

in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. let the oil heat up; it’ll be ready when you sprinkle a few drops of cold water into the pan and you get a nice sizzle.

add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and salt and pepper to taste. saute until they just start to soften and the onions begin to get translucent, about 2 minutes.

add the garlic, and cook about a minute more, just until the garlic becomes fragrant and lovely.

add the ground beef, and break up with a wooden spoon. cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes.

add the brown sugar, tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder and worcestershire sauce, mix until incorporated.

add the tomato sauce, and bring to a boil.

reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened.

toast the buns under the broiler until brown, which should only take a minute or so.

when the sloppy joe mixture is nice and thick, take off the heat and spoon onto the buns.

top with cheddar cheese.

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4 Responses to “grown-up sloppy joes.”

  1. #
    1
    Sam — June 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    how many sandwiches does this yield?

  2. #
    2
    jaclyn — June 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    4 sandwiches!

  3. #
    3
    maria — June 18, 2010 at 11:15 am

    if you substitute the ground beef with some morningstar or boca crumbles, this becomes totally veg and equally delish!

  4. #
    4
    Bob — November 29, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks for making chores a fun experience

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