I pulled a pound of ground (Galloway beef from Second to None meats) out of the freezer last night with no real plans for it. Tonight, after painting a bowl as part of the Empty Bowls Benefit for the Calgary Inter-faith Food Bank and coming home with no dinner plan, I noticed half bag of Italian buns in the breadbox and got a sudden urge for sloppy Joes. It seems to me the penultimate working weeknight family meal. (With peas.)
When I was a kid, sloppy Joes were about as close as to a burgers as we got. Closer even than the made-from-scratch burgers my dad made out of extra-lean ground beef and oat bran (in approximately equal quantities) which I called sawdust burgers and which discouraged my friends from staying for dinner. Now it is becoming evident that I am in fact turning into my Dad, as I do things like bring bagels and cheese to the zoo (instead of buying food there) and am excited to tell you how easy it is to sneak ground flaxseed into things like sloppy Joes – anything with chunky texture, like chili or spaghetti sauce, makes a good candidate. It seems I have developed a taste for frugality as well as grainy breads.
I’m sure their sweetness was a big part of the reason I loved SJs so much – between the ketchup and brown sugar, it’s sweet, saucy meat on a bun. Although a soft bun is considered the classic vehicle, sloppy Joes are phenomenal on split cheese biscuits or a thick wedge of cheddar beer bread.
a drizzle of canola or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb. lean ground beef or bison
1 14 oz. (398 mL) can diced, whole or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce, or some of each
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
soft buns, cheese buns, plain or cheese biscuits
Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, red pepper and garlic for about 10 minutes, until the onions are starting to turn golden. Add the meat and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking it up as you cook, until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Split the buns or biscuits in half and ladle the sloppy Joe mixture on top. Serves 4-6.
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