I had a good time last week talking about Sloppy Joes and lamenting the classic sandwich’s apparent fade from glory. But really, the conversation only inspired an overwhelming jonesing for a sandwich I’ve gone without for decades. It had been too long. I needed a slump buster.
As I noted last week, the existence of a D.C.-based gourmet Sloppy Joe truck notwithstanding, this fine sandwich seems to be growing ever more scarce on restaurant menus and, perhaps worse, in the home kitchens of the young parents of our nation. So I made my own. The ingredients are, of course, readily available, and my preparation relied on some guidance gleaned from five or six different online recipes that are a quick Google search away, so I won’t bother to link them here. I’m no chef, but I get the impression the Sloppy Joe is one of those dishes that’s pretty tough to screw up. For what it’s worth, here are some notes on my preparation.
MEAT: I used standard lean ground beef, browned in a skillet with some butter. I skimmed as much of the fat as possible; might have been a greasy mess otherwise.
TOPPINGS: Chopped green bell pepper, chopped red and white onion and a few cloves minced garlic were allowed to cook down with the meat. This is the point in my prep where a lazier mother might have chopped and tossed in whatever else in fridge looked about to rot. I tossed on some neon orange cheddar at the end to positive effect.
BASE: Standard ketchup is far too sweet for my liking. So, in opposition to the majority of recipes I found, I used for my base a 1:1:1 mixture of tomato paste, beer and water with a few dashes of Worcestershire. I added a tablespoon or so of raw cane sugar to replace a bit of the sweetness. Cayenne pepper and dry mustard brought the heat; salt and pepper leveled it all out. I saw recipes calling for paprika, dried herbs, garlic salt, etc., but there was no lack of depth with this combo. Simmered that for a bit.
BREAD: I opted for a hefty Kaiser roll sliced considerably north of the equator, with the bottom half of the bun significantly thicker than the top. The interior surfaces were then toasted on a skillet, which improved the resilience of the bun to the sloppy moisture of the meat and sauce.
FOR NEXT TIME: Pickles or relish. Fortunately there are leftovers.