I think a lot of folks would agree that canned sloppy-Joes are mediocre, at best. This classic American comfort-food has never really been a favorite of mine; instead, it was an acceptable weeknight meal that was easy and quick to whip up. But nothing to brag about, much less look forward to. They aren’t particularly healthy when made from a can, either, considering they’re made with HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) and preservatives. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this… I’ve got a better version. It’s healthier, it’s tastier, and just as sloppy as the original. It takes a bit more effort, but it’s absolutely worth it for a completely craveable meal for the family with no mystery ingredients.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, finely diced (1/8-inch pieces approximately)
- 1 small green bell pepper, finely diced
- 4-6 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 T.)
- 1 c. water
- 1 1/2 c. (organic) ketchup
- 2 t. chili powder
- 1 t. dry mustard
- 1-2 T. brown sugar (to taste)
- 1/2 t. red pepper flake (optional)
- 2 T. tomato paste
- 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
- Salt to taste
- Soft buns of your choosing like Kaiser, potato, sweet Hawaiian, or wheat or white hamburger buns. I chose sweet Hawaiian slider buns this time.
- Bread & butter pickles (optional)
Start out by browning the ground beef in a large skillet over high heat. Drain off any grease, turn the heat down to medium, and add a pinch of salt, the onion, and green pepper. Cover and let the vegetables cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the water, ketchup, chili powder, dry mustard, brown sugar, red pepper flake, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well and turn down to a simmer. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you like. I recommend starting with only one tablespoon of brown sugar and add the second if you like a little more sweetness.
Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Uncover and cook another 5 minutes to let the sauce thicken a bit more.
Turn the heat off and let sit about 5 minutes before spooning onto warm buns. Serve them up and watch them disappear.