Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guilty Cravings: Sloppy Joe Recipe

“She glanced down at the contents of her plate. Just tell him what it is. Simple. Look at it and say what it is. "Sloppy Joe," she managed. "Hmm," he said, sounding doubtful. "May he rest in peace.” ― Kelly Creagh, Nevermore

Sloppy, yes... and good. Photo: WordRidder, Flickr ccl
Come on. Admit it. We all have had a craving for sloppy joes at least once. In actuality they’re quite easy – and quick – to make from scratch. Although you can get pre-made sauces, I find having control over what goes in my food gives me more peace of mind.

From Wikipedia:
A sloppy joe is an American dish of ground beef, onions, sweetened tomato sauce or ketchup and other seasonings, served on a hamburger bun… Contradictory lore suggests that the Original Sloppy Joe Sandwich was invented at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Florida, or by a cook named Joe at a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa, as a variation of the popular "loose meat" sandwich (which does not contain tomato sauce).

The original Sloppy Joe's Bar. Photo: Florida Keys--Public Library, Flickr ccl
It’s impossible to determine what story is true (or first) but my vote’s for Sloppy Joe’s in Key West. The back story is more colourful so that’s why my vote. (Look up about Sloppy Joe’s Bar to see.)

Photo: BjornFranTjorn, Flickr ccl
Who know’s what this mixture would have tasted like originally. Everyone’s in on the act, making their own variations (including me…). The kraftcanada.com web site has no less than seven variations on the classic, all presumably plugging one or more of their “cheese-like” products.

You can purchased quite good “sauce” for Sloppy Joes in a can in Nova Scotia. I like Hunt’s Manwich brand, but it’s extremely difficult to find. It’s like they’re trying to hide it in the groceries for some reason. It must have unusual slotting on the shelves. I can’t remember where I found it last time.

You have to be careful when reading packaging. The name on the can is Hunt’s Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce. But they don’t mean “original Sloppy Joe sauce”; they mean “original Manwich.” Those advertisers are crafty. I know from experience.

Regardless, if you make your own you get to put whatever you want in it. Mine leans a little to a Southern US style, as it should. I hope you like it.

Sloppy Joes
Makes 4-6 sloppy joes
Photo: Our Enchanted Garden, Flickr ccl
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small (8 ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp cayenne
1 /2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or skillet. Add the onion, garlic and celery and sauté until softened.

Ad the beef and continue to sauté until it is no longer pink. If you wish you can drain off any collected fat. If you don’t your end result may be oily.

Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

At the end of the cooking time check for remaining moisture. If there is too much, turn up the heat and let it evaporate to the consistency you desire.

Serve on toasted buns or crusty bread with cole slaw and pickles.


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