Just in time for the first game of baseball’s World Series, here is a recipe that we all grew up with – mouthwatering, messy and so much fun to eat, you immediately become a kid again. When I have had a rough day, this is one of the meals I turn to for real comfort food. The soft bun filled with spicy, tomatoey beef has soothed many frazzled nerves over the years. Tonight, when we’re watching the baseball game, this is the perfect meal to fill us up and ease our tensions if the Rangers are winning, LOL. Go Giants!
Some say it was invented at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida and others by a cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa. It probably originated during the Depression and World War II when meat was scarce and mothers looked for creative ways to feed a family. Of course it may just have been named after a messy eater named Joe! Quick and easy to make, it is a great meal to fill up a hungry crowd.
There are a ton of ways to make this dish but the foundation is always ground beef mixed with tomato sauce or paste and seasonings. From there your imagination can take over. As you’ve probably noticed, I tend to like my foods with lots of flavor. I grew up a very picky eater and somehow evolved into having a passion for food. I love taking simple, traditional recipes like this one and giving them a new life. My hope is that by following along, you will develop your own style of cooking and create newer versions of these recipes!
So, dive in, make this recipe and rediscover an old family favorite. And who knows, maybe you will create a new tradition to enjoy for years to come!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
It may seem like an unnecessary step to drain off the excess fat, but if you don’t your meat will be greasy. If you are making this ahead, you can skip this step because the fat will rise to the surface and solidify in the refrigerator. You can then scrape it off the top before reheating.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 med onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup minced carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper, optional
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 lb ground beef or ground dark turkey
- 3/4 lb ground sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1/4 cup Chili sauce (such as Heinz brand - found next to Ketchup)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp mustard
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- Hot pepper sauce, if desired, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Water as needed
- Grated cheddar cheese, optional
- 6 hamburger buns, Dutch Crunch or Hoagie rolls, or sliced baguettes
- Heat oil in a large heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, bell pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a large bowl and reserve.
- In another bowl combine ground beef and sausage. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, and mix gently.
- Add half the ground meats to the same pan, scraping the bottom. Let brown completely on one side without stirring. Flip and brown the second side. Break up the meat and transfer to the same bowl with the vegetables. Repeat with remaining meat. When fully cooked, strain off all but 1 tbsp of the fat in the pan. Return the rest of the meat and vegetables to the pan. Break up clumps.
- In a bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato paste, Chili sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, mustard, sugar, paprika, oregano, and hot pepper sauce if using. Blend thoroughly and pour over the meat and vegetables. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until mixture has thickened and flavors have blended, stirring often. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and/or sugar. Add water if needed to thin mixture. Meat mixture can be made up to two days ahead. Store in refrigerator and reheat before serving.
- Serve over lightly toasted hamburger buns or other bread. If desired you can sprinkle with some cheese, pop under the broiler for a minute or two until melted and serve open faced with the top of the bun set at an angle.