Growing up, Sloppy Joes were one of my favorite meals – meaty, saucy and loaded on a soft bun, it was better, even, than a burger. Nowadays I rarely think to make them, but they really do make a fast, simple, inexpensive weeknight meal I almost always have the ingredients for. Kids love Joes, and leftovers freeze well, or can be tossed into a batch of spaghetti sauce or chili. Recycling matters, even in the kitchen!
If you use ground turkey or chicken, keep in mind that supermarkets don’t trim the fat from poultry before they grind it. If you’re looking to make them leaner, it’s best to trim the skin and fat from turkey or chicken breasts or thighs yourself, then pulse it in your food processor until it’s as coarsely or finely ground as you like. Dark thigh meat is much more flavorful than white meat; it has a slightly higher fat content, but still contains far less fat than ground beef.
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) olive or canola oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (optional)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 lbs. (750 g) lean ground beef or ground turkey or chicken, or a combination
1 28 oz. (796 mL) can diced, whole or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup (125 mL) ketchup or half ketchup, half barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) brown sugar
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
A few shots of Tabasco (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 plain soft buns, cheese buns, or 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, salt and pepper and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Split buns or biscuits in half and ladle the mixture on top.