Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Edible Irony: Sloppy Joes, Not that Sloppy

For such an iconic retro dish, the Sloppy Joe is very misunderstood. While most people assume the name comes from the sandwich's loose meat, it's actually the name of the bar in Key West, FL where it was invented.

That's right, after extensive research (I checked Wikipedia), I've determined that this ground beef masterpiece was created at Sloppy Joe's Bar, which was probably named for some guy named Joe, who would get a little too loose after a few cocktails.

So, despite the name, the secret to a great Sloppy Joe is a thick, rich, almost dry consistency, which allows it to be eaten two-fisted, sans fork, as God intended.

I believe over the years the idea that the name was a description of the optimum texture helped this evolve into its usually much runnier form. As you'll see in the video, I like to start with lots of liquid and slowly simmer it down into a fine, thick, tender paste.

Spice it up, toss it onto some soft sesame seed hamburger buns, and make sure there are lots of Tater Tots withi
n reach. Enjoy!



Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
1 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced green bell pepper
3/4 cup ketchup
dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
cayenne to taste

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

YEEEEEAH!
I'M SO GONNA MAKE THIS TONIGHT

Louise (artofcuisine.com) said...

I love retro dishes, especially sloppy joes. out of a can has so many extra junk you just don't need. thanks for the recipe-

Asian Malaysian said...

I always thought sloppy joe filling was a thicker form of bolognese sauce but then again I have absolutely no frame of reference beyond what Ive seen on tv. Extra lean ground beef thats not used in a stirfry. Whodda thunk?

Asian Malaysian said...

I always thought sloppy joe filling was a thicker form of bolognese sauce but then again I have absolutely no frame of reference beyond what Ive seen on tv. Extra lean ground beef thats not used in a stirfry. Whodda thunk?

Anonymous said...

Would you believe I was sitting in my kitchen thinking "what can I make with ground beef?". Ended up eating week old pasta...today is lost, but tomorrow...IS SLOPPY JOE DAY!!

Thanks Chef!!

Livia said...

I'm sitting here drooling. It's time for my midnight snack. Will somebody please bring one of these for me? ...No? Well, then I will just have to make it myself!

Thanks for the tantalizing video and recipe!

Kelly Toon said...

Ooooh, yes. I want that with sliced dill pickle and red onions on the side, maybe with a schmear of hot mustard. And a beer!

Chef John, I need your help. I will be attending my first Easter experience at a church, and I would love to bring the Easter bread. Whole Foods doesn't carry Anise extract, and if they don't have it, I don't know who would (do you?). Do you think using an Anise liqueur of some kind would suffice?

The weather will be gorgeous here tomorrow so we'll be grilling Salmon with chimichurri sauce! I can't wait to taste it.

Thanks for all that you do, Chef.

Chef John said...

surprised about whole foods since I've always just gotten it at any grocery store. Safeway, Wegmans, etc.

annie said...

chef, can i omit the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard? never like the taste. would that effect the taste of the joes?

thanks for the recipe.

Chef John said...

i sure hope it effects it, otherwise ive been putting it in for nothing! You can leave it out, but it's so little you really won't know its in there.

rosemary said...

I assume the tater tots were home made? May we have your recipe please?

Elena said...

Hey Chef, I fell in love with your videos! You're awesome! Btw, could you please make a video on how to make easy TENDER pan fried chicken breast? I don't have a grill at home. Thanks so much! ..... ^___^

Chef John said...

do a search for Chicken Breast, we have a few pan fried recipes. Chicken marsala etc.

Chef John said...

home made tater tots?? Never! Only use the frozen ones.

Rita said...

we love sloppy joe's! we have some tater tots in the freezer, and some dill pickles. all we need are some buns, and we're good to go! thanks for this awesome recipe. hubby wants me to make this ASAP!

btw, don't forget a good bottle (or 2) of beer to go with that.

Jesse said...

My tater tot question has already been answered... how lovely.

averagebetty said...

I don't know why, but around my house we called them Sloppy Jones'... sure does bring back memories :) Can't wait for the cookbook, Chef!

Chef John said...

thanks! I believe the real question is, a 100 years from now, what will be known as the "Average Betty?" And, will it have a stick in it?

J. Jones said...

Made these last night. They were excellent. Great flavors, Chef.

Chris K. said...

Awesome! I just made sloppy joes and tater tots last week, thinking, "When was the last time I had sloppy joes and tater tots?"

We like to serve them on toasted onion rolls. It's kind of like putting lipstick on a pig, but hey - if you like pigs, why not make 'em purdy?

You know what else is good? Jalapeno ketchup on your tots. Yes!

Jesse said...

Made these last night but forgot to buy green pepper at the store... Definitely was missing something. I felt like it needed a little acid, maybe citrus? Something tangy.. Awesome texture though... and wonderful sweetness.

Jesse said...

Made these last night but forgot to buy green pepper at the store... Definitely was missing something. I felt like it needed a little acid, maybe citrus? Something tangy.. Awesome texture though... and wonderful sweetness.

Don Madrid said...

Introducing my kids and their friends here in Spain to the sloppy joe experience was so cool. They LOVED it! They couldnt believe that I used to eat this stuff in school. They dont exist here. Neither do Tater Tots. I made them myself though and they came out just about perfect.

Amy Lynn said...

Hi Chef John!

I made this last night, exactly as written, except for the cayenne, and it was fabulous. You have cured me of my aversion to mustard and Worcestshire! My boyfriend said it was amazing!

Mike said...

@rosemary

If you must make your own tater tots (sacrilege). Search for Chef Johns Potato pancake recipe and just form them into "tots" as they were. I assume they are just nugget sized hash browns. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

Can you substitute tomato sauce for the water or a combination of, or add tomato paste to the water to give the dish a more acidic/tomato flavor and balance out the sweet? Or would that mess up the evaporation process?

Chef John said...

You can, and many do!

Elizabeth said...

I tried out this recipe today! It came out a little sweeter than I had expected. So I tossed in some garlic powder and crushed red peppers.... mmmmm!

chad said...

Chef, I made this recipe tonight for the second time, and I found that smoked chipotle pepper makes for a wonderful substitute for cayenne if you don't have it. But then again, what self respecting chef has smoked chipotle in their cupboard but not cayenne? Anywho, the smokiness and spicyness of the chipotle works wonders to counter the sweetness of the ketchup and brown sugar. As always, thank you so much for all your hard work coordinating this food blog. I have watched nearly every single video on here (mainly because I'm an aspiring culinary arts graduate) and I have learned so very much from watching your videos. As soon as I get around to having some extra money, I'm definitely donating to you to pay you back for all of your hard work. Thanks again!

frankpaulferdinand said...

Hello Chef John,
I made this dish last week and instead of cayenne pepper I used a finely chopped jalapeno pepper, but the spicyness was undetectable. Would cayenne come through better, or should I use a habanero pepper?

Chef John said...

cayenne is much hotter than jalp ...why not use both? hab good, but very hot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef!
I've never had sloppy joe's until now. OMG!!! It was so freakin' good. Very flavorful. My husband loved it too. He went back for 2nd and 3rd. My 1 yr old enjoyed it too. Thank you so much!!!

Kari said...

Chef John,
These were the best sloppy joes I've ever made. Thank you. My mom's recipe isn't much different from yours, except for the water at the end. That made allll the difference.
Thanks again. You're the best. <3

Human Orchestra said...

I strongly recommend you toast your buns a bit. So much better when they're a bit hot and crispy, but not too much!

Anonymous said...

I made this recipe last Christmas. I ate 2 and half (had to share)sandwiches and couldn't get enough. Had to redo it for New Year's Eve, so I did.

astaggs said...

I was so skeptical when my mom found this recipe on YouTube and invited me to dinner. I've never been a sloppy Joe fan but I have been converted to a sloppy Joe lover! I had TWO sandwiches, they where so good. You are now my "go to" guy for everything. So far have made three other recipes and all have turned out just like you said. I'm going to try the pulled pork next and the no stir yeast rolls. Yum. Thank you so much for the recipes.

*SpArKy* said...

Made this last night......FANTASTIC!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear CJ,

I wish you would show us how to make tater tots...we don't have them over here :(((

As for the Sloppy Joe recipe, it turned out great! Thanks so much!!!

mialatina said...

Chef John!! I made this last night! Another successful meal!! High five myself....I am getting way more comfortable in the kitchen!

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to make this recipe for a few months now. Finally got to make it! It's so simple and amazing! I used only 1 cup of water though. Still delicious - LOVE ITTTTT!!!! Thanks John! :)

ChefJohnsBiggestFan said...

is it against the law to add some extra sharp cabot white cheddar aged 3 years to the top of that steamy mound of deliciousness? (you don't have to really answer that. I know you will say "SURE") hehehehe

dcs said...

I tried the recipe, as a bit of a sloppy joe afficianado. My wife thought it was the best I've made in a long time. For me, I prefer another way to get the initial beef cook and crumble. I put it in hot simmering water. It seems to fall apart into finer little 'crumbs' better, and without getting dryed out. I guess this way doesn't really brown the meat as well, but overall I prefer it. Second, I would use 50% more ketchup, to better differentiate this from a 'loosemeat' type recipe, and use somewhat less sugar. Next time, that's what I'll do...

Gretchen in NOLA said...

Just out of curiousity, do you fry your tater tots or put them in the oven? they look so nicely browned.

Chef John said...

oven!

Anonymous said...

I will never buy sloppy joe mix in a packet or can again! Fantastic recipe! Thank you for teaching me how to actually cook!

whitterbug23 said...

I just made a half batch of these and I was disappointed by the lack of sauce (I love extra saucy sloppy joes), but one bite took away any doubt I had. These are the best sloppy joes I have ever had. Thanks for another delicious recipe Chef John. I can't wait to make them again.

By the way I must object; sesame seed buns pale in comparison to a kaiser roll cut in half, buttered, sprinkled with cheddar and fried in a pan.

Cheryl Toray said...

I and my husband love this recipe for sloppy joes. I have been using this recipe for a few months now and it always comes out wonderful.Cooking time takes a while but good things come to those that wait. Thanks Chef John !

Anonymous said...

i really love this recipe and i can't wait to make it.
thanks chef john!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hidayah said...

I made this today. I added red bell peppers, diced carrots and accidentally added 2 tbsp of yellow mustard. It was still really good though! thanks chef :)

Angee said...

Delicious!!! Any suggestions on making it a little "saucier?" My guys said they loved these, but missed the extra sauce. Another winner from you, Chef John!! Gracias!!!

Matt Grommesh said...

the only problem with this recipe is that my 7 year old son would eat the whole recipe if I let him, so there's not enough for me ;-;

foxmarks said...

Made this for the first time yesterday. Will be making it again!

I left out the brown sugar (paleo-friendly version), and added a good squirt of tomato paste with the water.

As a condiment, try a little creamy horseradish. OMFG!!! Delicious!

Larry said...

Made this 2 days ago. They were fantastic. Had left overs today, they were also fantastic. This is joining my Chef John File. It would take too much time to list your recipes that we love but covers most of the meals we eat..
Thank you very much for posting.

As usual, with your recipes, I didn't change a thing.

Nancy Troske said...

These are so by far the best sloppy joes I've ever made or tasted. I've sent this link to so many people and they've all been bowled over by how easy and good it is. Can't wait to try more of your recipes!

Thank you!

p.s. I've made them several time and one night I had some leftover gazpacho I made in my Vitamix and threw it into the mix. It tasted great.