It takes a while, but every summer by about this time we all start suffering from burger fatigue. I don’t know about you, but we definitely get our fill of burgers and dogs around here during grilling season, so much so that by mid-August I start thinking about how to take the idea of a burger in new directions.
One of our favorite alternatives is this Sloppy Joe.
Please don’t tell me you reach for a can of Manwich, or just dump a jar of Ragu in ground beef when you fell the urge, you don’t do you? For years the Sloppy Joe has been sold as just that kind of meal, much like that old chestnut, Tuna Helper, a desperation meal in a can that you keep hidden in the back of the pantry. If that IS the only kind of Joe you’ve ever had, then please keep reading, as you are in for a treat.
I’m here to tell you that a well made Sloppy Joe can be so much more than that desperation meal. Once you make a good one from scratch, you’ll never be tempted by the can again. Even if its not as simple as just dumping a can of goo in a skillet, this recipe is a breeze to throw together, and the resulting dish light years better than a pre-fab Joe. The real key to making this a super sandwich with a great depth of flavor is to brown the meat well at the beginning. Caramelizing the meat well not only improves the texture of the mix (flaccid meat is such a turn-off), but also the flavor. The more rich, brown “fond” on the bottom of the pan when you deglaze with the wine, the better!
Enjoy – Steve
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 vidalia onion, finely chopped
- 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, puréed
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6-8 hamburger buns
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the carrots and celery and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent, about 5 more minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan to a medium sized bowl, set aside.
- Heat the same pan on high. Crumble the ground beef into the pan. You will likely need to do this in two batches, otherwise you will crowd the pan and the beef won't easily brown, sprinkle liberally with salt. Do not stir the ground beef, just let it cook until it is well browned on one side. Then stir the pieces and brown the second side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ground beef from the pan, adding it to the set-aside vegetables. Repeat with the rest of the ground beef. Strain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat when you have finished cooking the meat.
- Lower the heat to medium and deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, cook until the wine is reduced to a glaze. Add the sugar, worcestershire and pureed tomatoes to the pan, stir to incorporate. Return the cooked ground beef and vegetables to the pan. Stir to mix well. Add ground cloves, thyme, sriracha and tomato paste and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with toasted hamburger buns.