The Untidiest of Sandwiches

One of my favorite easy, one-pan meals to fix is Sloppy Joes.  A friend of mine from high school once told me that her mother used to call them “untidy Bartholomews” instead.  Quite a mouthful for a simple, messy and tasty sandwich.

Generally, when people make Sloppy Joes, they buy that stuff in a can that you can add to ground meat to make them.  That’s all good and well if you’re pinched for time, but truly, this version is far superior.  Not only does it get in the half cup of vegetables the canned stuff claims to provide per serving, it eliminates the corn syrup the canned stuff adds.  As corn syrup is a no-no in our household (as are onions), the canned stuff isn’t an option.  So I developed my own version of the Sloppy Joe.  Et voila:

The untidiest of sandwiches, this recipe mimics the stuff you can get in a can, but minus the corn syrup, and full of flavor.

I make mine using either 93/7 ground turkey (99% lean is too lean here) or ground sirloin.  Certainly ground chicken or pork could be substituted, but I feel that for this particular rendition, beef is best as it holds its own against the spices I use to flavor this sandwich filling.  The cayenne and red pepper flakes could be left out to make it kid friendly, unless your kid is a connoisseur of spicy foods, and then by all means, leave them in!   I also add celery and bell pepper to boost the veggie content, and they are a great addition here.  Here’s how I make this particular dish.

You will need:

  • 1 pound ground sirloin*
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 8 oz. can no salt tomato sauce
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (also called Spanish paprika)
  • salt to taste

*ground chuck, regular ground beef or ground turkey can also be substituted here.

Brown the ground sirloin in a large skillet, then drain and reserve.  Heat the olive oil in the same skillet, and once the oil is hot, toss the bell pepper and celery in.  Cook them over medium-high heat until they soften a bit, about 7-8 minutes.  Near the end of this cooking time, add the garlic, ground sirloin, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and water.  Stir to combine, and then add the tomato paste, stirring in the paste thoroughly so that there are no chunks of it remaining.

Add all your seasonings, adding salt to taste.  Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce your heat to just below medium, cover the pan and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring periodically to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of your pan.

When the cook time ends, serve with crusty hamburger rolls.  I served mine on whole wheat bakery buns, but I have also eaten it as a baked potato topping.  This recipe made approximately 6 1-cup servings.

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