Lunch lady secrets revealed: The perfect sloppy Joe
I've mentioned before that my husband is not terribly fond of sandwiches for dinner, mostly because he eats two sandwiches every day of his life for lunch. Sadly, I do like sandwiches for dinner. So, when is a sandwich not a sandwich? But of course, when it's a sloppy Joe! For some reason, the sloppy Joe is an acceptable dinner entree to my Mr. Meat and Potatoes, probably because, well, meat.
Anyway, I often forget about the ole sloppy Joe. It falls out of the dinner rotation and is relegated to the likes of tuna noodle casserole on the list of Non-Fancy Stuff We Love And Never Think To Make. But, recently I haven't had time to make fussy dinners every night, so casseroles and quickie meals have taken on a central role in my menu planning as of late. Hence, the re-emergence of the sloppy Joe. Oh, Joe, how sorry I am to have abandoned you in your messy goodness. You're delightful when served on a well-toasted bun. Dare I say, delectable, even. My husband declared them a favorite and said they were "fancy."
"This is no Manwich," I believe was his line.
I try to inject extra flavor and a few vitamins into my sloppy Joe, so I include a red pepper (full of vitamin C!) and an onion into the gloppy goodness. Feel free to leave them out if you feel like they bastardize the purity of your lunch lady memories.
Not Manwich Sloppy Joes
2 lbs ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 large red pepper, diced
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
dash of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet or saute pan. Drain off all of the grease except a tablespoon and add the garlic, onion and red pepper. Saute until it's all soft, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and simmer until it's your desired consistency. Voila!
While it simmers, butter your buns and brown them either under the broiler or do it my way in and brown them in a hot cast iron skillet. This buttered and toasted bun will elevate your sloppy Joe from just a good sandwich to a truly excellent meal. It's a lot of extra flavor, but possibly even more importantly, it's texture. The crispiness of a toasted bun saves your sandwich from being a purely mushy mess. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking time for this extra little step.
Also, serve your sloppy Joe with potato chips. Anything else would just be wrong.