Sloppy Joes: Fresh takes on an American classic



Traditional Sloppy Joes

1 pound lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1/8 teaspoon pepper

6 burger buns, split

In 10-inch skillet, cook beef, onions and celery over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is done. Drain.

Stir in remaining ingredients except buns. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Spoon into buns. Makes 6 sandwiches.

Source: Adapted from “Betty Crocker Cookbook,” 11th Edition

Per serving (filling only): 249 calories (56 percent from fat), 15.3 g fat (5.8 g saturated, 6.6 g monounsaturated), 53.6 mg cholesterol, 13.8 g protein, 13.2 g carbohydrate, 0.7 g fiber, 440 mg sodium.


Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped celery

3 tablespoons sambal oelek or other Asian chile sauce

1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound ground chicken thighs

1 pound ground pork

1 cup hoisin sauce

1 cup drained canned diced tomatoes

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

20 brioche dinner rolls, split and toasted

Shredded iceberg lettuce and spicy pickles, for serving

In a large, deep skillet, heat canola oil until shimmering. Add onions, celery, chile sauce, garlic, ginger and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.

Add ground chicken and pork and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Stir in hoisin, tomatoes and lime juice and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon about 1/4 cup filling on the bottom half of each roll. Top with shredded lettuce and pickles and serve. Makes 20 sliders.

Source: Adapted from foodandwine.com.

Per serving: 207 calories (41 percent from fat), 9.9 g fat (2.6 g saturated, 4 g monounsaturated), 32.9 mg cholesterol, 11.3 g protein, 21.1 g carbohydrate, 2.7 g fiber, 434 mg sodium.


Loaded Sriracha Barbecue Sloppy Joe Fries

1 pound ground beef

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 cup ketchup

2 teaspoons sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce

3 / 4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 / 2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon vinegar

24-ounce package frozen waffle cut fries

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

3 green onions, sliced

Cook ground beef in skillet over medium heat. Drain. Cook bell pepper and onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Return ground beef to pan.

Add remaining ingredients except cheese and green onions. Mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, cook fries according to package instructions. You want them crispy so they won’t get soggy underneath the sauce.

Turn oven to broil.

Spoon meat mixture over cooked french fries. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil just until cheese is melted. Sprinkle green onions on top. Serve with additional sriracha sauce, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 357 calories (44 percent from fat), 17 g fat (7.4 g saturated, 7.5 g monounsaturated), 51 mg cholesterol, 18 g protein, 32 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g fiber, 774 mg sodium.

Main dish

Sloppy Joe Pie

This flaky, one-skillet savory pie isn’t really a pie at all, in that it just has a top crust. But no one will miss the buns, guaranteed.

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box

1/2 pound bulk turkey or pork sausage

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup chunky-style salsa

1 / 2 cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 ounce can chopped green chiles

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Unroll pie crust on ungreased cookie sheet. With sharp knife, cut into a circle to fit the top of the pie pan. Cut out squares for a checkerboard pattern. If desired, place cutouts on crust to decorate, securing each with small amount of water.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until crust is light golden brown.

Meanwhile, in 10-inch skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until sausage is no longer pink. Stir in remaining ingredients except cilantro. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until corn is cooked and sauce is desired consistency.

Stir cilantro into sausage mixture. Carefully place warm baked crust over turkey mixture in skillet. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from “The Big Book of Pies & Tarts” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)

Per serving: 615 calories (45 percent from fat), 31 g fat (7.7 g saturated, 6.8 g monounsaturated), 113.4 mg cholesterol, 36.5 g protein, 49.5 g carbohydrate, 5.4 g fiber, 1,848 mg sodium.


Veggie Sloppy Joes

This vegetarian answer to sloppy Joes is made with black beans and mushrooms.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup diced carrots

1 cup trimmed and diced mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon paprika

3 cups drained and rinsed canned black beans (from 2 15-ounc cans)

1 cup prepared tomato sauce

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Salt and pepper

6 whole-wheat hamburger buns

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, cumin, and paprika. Stir everything together and allow mushrooms to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add beans, tomato sauce, vinegar, mustard and syrup, and allow to simmer and thicken for about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if you like.

Toast buns (to make Joes a bit less sloppy). Spoon a generous amount of bean mixture onto the bottom half of each bun and sprinkle with a good pinch of shredded cheese. Put hamburger lid on top and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 363 calories (23 percent from fat), 9.5 g fat (2.7 g saturated, 2.7 g monounsaturated), 11.5 mg cholesterol, 20 g protein, 53 g carbohydrate, 12.4 g fiber, 1,089 mg sodium.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Most of us have stories about what the lunch ladies ladled out in the school cafeteria: Chicken nuggets so rubbery you swear they’d bounce if you threw one on the floor. Mystery-meat tacos. And, of course, greasy, oozing-from-the-bun sloppy Joe sandwiches.

Love ’em or hate ’em, the messy ground meat and tomato sauce sandwich is, for many, an iconic lunch food of childhood. For meat eaters of a particular demographic, it also showed up on the family dinner table, usually with tater tots and and an iceberg-lettuce salad.

I grew up in the Manwich era, so forgive me if I wasn’t always a fan of the sloppy Joe. I found the canned sauce, introduced by Hunt’s in 1969, a bit too sweet and soupy. But I could be in the minority: ConAgra sold more than 70 million cans of the stuff last year.

But a homemade Joe? That can be a beautiful thing, not to mention a quick and easy way to get a filling (and inexpensive) dinner on the table.

The origins of the sloppy Joe — typically made with ground beef, tomato sauce or ketchup, onions and spices and served on a hamburger bun — are almost as messy as the sandwich itself. Noting that “similar beef concoctions” have graced the pages of cookbooks since the turn of the 12th century, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America reports it may have evolved from a dish first served in Muscatine, Iowa, during President Calvin Coolidge’s administration. In 1926, a butcher named Floyd Angell opened Maid-Rite, a walk-up eatery that grew into a chain specializing in “loose meat” sandwiches. Also known as a Tavern or a Tastee, the Maid-Rite was made from steamed, lightly seasoned ground beef served on a warm bun.

The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink dates the sandwich to about 1935: “There is probably no Joe after whom it is named – but its rather messy appearance and tendency to drip off plate or roll makes ‘sloppy’ an adequate description and Joe is an American name of proletarian character with unassailable genuineness.”

Or perhaps it was named after the type of restaurants that commonly served it. In the 1940s, any inexpensive eatery or lunch counter serving cheap food was known as a “Sloppy Joe.”

However the sandwich came to be, by the late 1930s it was popular on dinner tables across the United States because it helped home cooks stretch scant meat supplies during the Great Depression and World War II. The dish merited mentions in several 1940s movies, including Citizen Kane. The first printed recipe that dubbed the hamburger dish “sloppy Joe” was in 1963, in the McCall’s Cook Book.

Skillet-cooked, hamburger-based sloppy Joes remain the American standard, though there are regional variations and names. In Rhode Island, where the meat mixture is served on a torpedo roll, it’s called a dynamite sandwich. You'll also find the sandwich described on menus as the yum yum, slush burger, spoonburger or, when it’s made with turkey or vegetable protein, a sloppy Jane or sloppy Tom.

The New Jersey Sloppy Joe is something altogether different — a cold, triple-decker deli sandwich made with sliced meat (usually turkey or pastrami), Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing.

For people who think they’re too busy to cook, there’s always Hunt’s Manwich sauces, which now come in Bold and Thick & Chunky in addition to the 1960s original. There’s also a heat-and-serve Manwich product in a microwaveable plastic container. (A lunch-lady hairnet to wear while serving it is optional.)

But wouldn’t that be a mistake when the real deal is so easy to prepare? Another plus to cooking your sloppies from scratch: If you’re willing to be just a bit adventurous with the meat and seasonings, you'll create a dish that will become legendary in your kids’ minds for all the right reasons.

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