One of the foods I’ve craved ever since I first set foot on American soil are Sloppy Joes. Sure, I know they’re considered the epitome of man-food, but oh well, I’ve always been a tomboy anyway. I actually like ‘man-food’. It’s no-nonsense food, served up in no-nonsense style. Doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy, as long as you don’t throw in a stick of butter or 2 cups of heavy cream, that is.
I’ve had a pretty rough time recreating the exact Sloppy Joe as I first tasted it many years ago. Tried several different recipes and although most of them were tasty, none of them came even close to the one that got me hooked. I also tried a can of Hunt’s Manwich, but was duly unimpressed with the flavor. And that’s putting it nicely.
It wasn’t until a friend posted her Sloppy Joe version that I actually trodded back out to the kitchen. I confined myself to a cooking session that lasted until had the exact combination of flavors I was looking for. I promised her I’d post my version as well, so here it is.
Roughly 20 pound ground beef, 10 onions, 15 bell peppers and 2 dozen buns later I present to you; Dutch girl’s all-American, homemade Sloppy Joes!
1 pound ground beef (seasoned to taste)
1 large onion
1 large garlic clove
1 green bell pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 a tsp oregano
1/2 a tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 a tsp sweet paprika powder
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
few drops tabasco
buns (or just eat it with a spoon)
Start with 1 pound ground beef. Superfluous comment and photo, really, but I liked it.
A lot of people don’t season their ground beef before browning it. I’m not one of them. I season my meat with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. The nutmeg is a recurrent thing, I’m aware of that. I doubt Betty Ford has a program for it.
Finely mince the bell pepper and onion. Sloppy Joes need green bell pepper. There’s just no other color possible, sorry.
Grate or mince the garlic.
Grab a bowl and combine 1/2 a tsp salt, 1/2 a tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp ground cumin with 1/2 a tsp sweet paprika powder. Stir to combine.
More stuff I’ll put in there.
Brown the beef in a large skillet.
Next, add roughly 2 sticks of butter. Just kidding… drain the fat. Geez, this was supposed to be low fat ground beef. Can’t trust the Albert Heyn for anything these days.
Add the minced onion and bell pepper to the skillet. Cook until the onion becomes translucent.
Add your garlic and 2 tbsp tomato paste. Cook for an additional minute. This will sweeten the tomato paste a little.
And in with the seasoning mix.
Pour 1 cup of water in there. Add 1/2 a tbsp brown sugar, a slightly heaping 1/4 cup of Heinz ketchup, 1 or 2 tbsp yellow mustard (no French mustard, mind you), 1 tsp worcestershire sauce and a few drops Tabasco—I’m using the green jalapeños version, it has more interesting flavor and is mellower than its red buddy.
Give everything a good stir. Taste to check the seasoning, adjust when need be and simmer, over low heat, for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes the sauce will have cooked down and the meat should look like this.
Whether you call them Sloppy Joes, Wimpies, Man-Wich, Yip-Yips, Spanish hamburger, Slushburgers, Canteen sandwiches or Steamers, this all-American dish is simply wonderful. The ultimate seduction.