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Sloppy Joes (A Blast From the Past, Only Better!)

My husband Jon is frequently asked “What’s your absolutely favorite meal at home?” Most people are quite surprised by his answer, which is always the same: “Lauren’s Sloppy Joes are close to the top of the list.” This combination of ground meat simmered in an intensely flavored sauce, served atop toasted, homemade burger buns seems to send my husband back to his childhood. (Of course, the sauce we all had back then was from a can, the buns were always store bought and the eating place was usually the school cafeteria.)

Since this sauce doubles perfectly, I recommend that you make a large batch and freeze it in separate small containers. Then, on nights when you’re exhausted, simply purchase some fresh ground beef and go to your freezer for the sauce. Within minutes, you’ll havea delicious, quick and truly comforting meal. Also, don’t hesitate to use ground turkey instead of beef. Or, if meat isn’t your thing, you can simply simmer reconstituted soy vegetable protein in the sauce and serve it the same way you would when using meat. The point: Regardless of your choice of protein, this recipe for Sloppy Joes is a real winner!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Ingredients

  • 2 generous cups Sloppy Joe Sauce (following)
  • 2 generous pounds freshly ground beef (chuck, round, sirloin or a combination) or ground veal and/or turkey
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 to 8 large hamburger buns
  • Softened butter, for the buns

1) For the Sloppy Joe Sauce: Prepare as directed in following recipe, measure out 2 cups and freeze the rest in 1 or 2 cups increments.

2) To brown ground meat: Heat a 10-inch non-reactive deep-sided skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the ground meat and break it up with a wooden spatula. Cook the meat until separated and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Then remove from the stove and drain out any excess fat from skillet. Return skillet to the stove, over low heat. Stir in the sauce and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, uncovered. Cook gently until the flavors mingle and the mixture is piping hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Add some more freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

3) To assemble Sloppy Joesand serve: While the sauce is simmering, open the hamburger buns and spread both opened sides lightly with butter. Lay the buns, buttered sides up, on a shallow baking sheet. Broil the buns until the buttered sides are nicely toasted. Spoon the ground beef mixture lavishly over buns and serve hot.

Sloppy Joe Sauce

Yield: about 4 cups; serves 8 to 10 (may be doubled)

This makes twice as much sauce as called for in the preceding recipe. You can cut it in half or double it so you will have plenty on hand in your freezer. You’ll need one generous cup of sauce for each generous pound of ground meat to serve three or four.

Special Equipment

2 1/2-quart non-reactive saucepan

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup packed minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup packed seeded and minced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup seeded and minced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups canned tomato puree
  • 2 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup prepared ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped cleaned fresh button mushrooms or portobello mushroom caps only
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes or drained and seeded canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon “Better Than Bouillon” (beef version), available in well-stocked supermarkets
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) To start the sauce: Heat a 2 1/2-quart nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and, when hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, stir in the onion, green and red pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are softened and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste, ketchup, vinegar, molasses and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to very low and simmer with the cover ajar for 1 hour.

2) To sauté the mushrooms: Heat an 8-inch skillet over high heat and, when hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3) To finish the sauce: After the sauce has simmered 1 hour, add the sautéed mushrooms, chopped plum tomatoes, oregano, “Better Than Bouillon” seasoning and some freshly ground black pepper. Return to a simmer and cook with the cover ajar for 30 minutes more. If you plan on using the sauce right away, measure out as much as needed and let the remaining sauce cool. Freeze cooled sauce in tightly sealed containers.

Serving Variations
The assembled Sloppy Joe mixture (including meat) is not only great on buns, it’s fabulous over hot, lightly buttered pasta; toss in some cooked peas for a hearty and delicious meal. Alternatively, stir some into a bowl of freshly cooked rice. And, don’t throw out any leftovers! Heat up the sauce on the next night and spoon it onto baked potatoes; If desired, sprinkle the tops lightly with grated Cheddar cheese and bake or broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

Ingredients to make Sloppy Joes

  • 2 generous pounds freshly ground beef (chuck, round, sirloin or a combination) or ground veal and/or turkey
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 to 8 large hamburger buns
  • Softened butter, for the buns
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup packed minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup packed seeded and minced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup seeded and minced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups canned tomato puree
  • 2 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup prepared ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped cleaned fresh button mushrooms or portobello mushroom caps only
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes or drained and seeded canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon “Better Than Bouillon” (beef version), available in well-stocked supermarkets
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

From the supermarket shelf:

  • burger buns
  • olive oil (pure and extra-virgin)
  • tomato puree
  • canned whole tomatoes (only if not using fresh)
  • tomato paste
  • ketchup
  • cider vinegar
  • molasses
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • dried oregano
  • “Better Than Bouillon” (beef version; in the soup and/or gravy section)
  • Kosher or sea salt and black peppercorns, for grinding

From the produce aisle:

  • yellow onion
  • green bell pepper
  • red bell pepper
  • celery
  • garlic
  • button mushrooms or portobello mushroom caps
  • Roma tomatoes (only if not using canned)

From the butcher:

  • 2 generous pounds ground beef (or a combination of beef and veal) or ground turkey

From the dairy case:

  • butter, for the buns

Here’s what you’ll need if you’ve already got a container of the sauce in the freezer (to serve 4 to 6)

  • 2 generous cups Sloppy Joe sauce, thawed

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Burger buns

From the butcher:

  • 2 generous pounds ground beef (or a combination of beef and veal) or ground turkey

From the dairy case:

  • butter, for the buns
Comments (1)

1 Comment »

  1. […] Lauren Groveman’s Kitchen is one of our favorite cookbooks from the Clinton Era.  So much so that when Michelle found a stack on a remainder table around the turn of the century, she bought them all up and gifted them to brides for years. (Sorry brides. Your wedding gifts may have cost only about $5 each. Hope you liked them anyway!) It’s a charming book full of helpful information for beginning cooks and enough reliable recipes for old-fashioned favorites to keep the more experienced interested.  Which reminds us: it’s been a long time since we’ve made Groveman’s yummy Sloppy Joes. […]

    Pingback by Literally grinding out a peanut butter brownie post. | Gourmandistan — July 14, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

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