Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sloppy Joes

A perfectly ripe peach, an iced tea, and a freshly bathed dog at my feet on a gorgeous Sunday morning. Life is good, good, good.

These Sloppy Joes are a great casual lunch or dinner, and the meat freezes well. Since we have a two-person household we like to freeze in dinner-for-two sizes.

If you're watching your carbs or calories, or just want a less-sloppy Joe, try hollowing out the roll before putting in the meat filling. This is especially helpful if you're feeding kids who haven't fully mastered clean eating [true story - when Cutie and I were making cheese dip she spilled a little mustard on her shirt. She noted that it clashed with the blueberry stain she'd acquired earlier in the day but couldn't care less about staining the shirt.]

Good side dishes include french fries, green salad, or corn on the cob.

Sloppy Joes
Everyday Food - I think it was 2005

1 and 1/4 pounds ground meat (beef, beef chuck, bison, chicken, turkey, pork, whatever). And you can go up to 1.4 pounds or down to 1.1ish with no adverse effects on the recipe
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) tomato puree or tomato sauce
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar - cider vinegar is preferred, but plain white vinegar is fine. Fancy fruit-flavored, herb-infused vinegars won't work here.
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce - check the label to see if it's gluten-free, if that's a concern
4 hamburger rolls or hoagie rolls

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeno chiles
1/2 ripe avocado, thinly sliced

1. Remove the papery outer skin of the onion, chop off the pointy ends, and dice the onion.

2. Remove the papery outer skin of the garlic cloves and either chop with a knife or smoosh through a garlic press.

3. In a small bowl combine the tomato puree/sauce, light-brown sugar, vinegar, tomato pate, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir with a spoon or fork and set aside. If you stir with a rubber spatula, then you can scrape all the sauce out of the bowl easily.

4. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat (5 on an electric stovetop) cook ground meat, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned. This will take about 5 minutes. [Note: If you are using non-stick cookware just cook until the meat is no longer pink. Food doesn't brown as well or as much in non-stick as it does with other cookware]

3. If you're handy with a hot skillet, drain the fat by pouring it out. If you're not comfortable with that there's an alternative method - get a large spoon and four or five paper towels. Push all the meat to one side of the skillet. Tilt the skillet slightly, lifting up the side that has all the meat in it.

4. The fat should start to collect in the other side of the skillet. Spoon out the fat and wipe out the rest with the paper towels.

5. Redistribute the meat evenly over the pan. Add salt and peper to taste - two or three shakes of each. Add the chopped onion and smooshed garlic. Cook, stirring every so often, for about five minutes or until the onions are no longer solid white.

6. Add the tomato/Worcestershire/vinegar/sugar mix to the skillet. Also add 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir to coat the meat with the sauce.

7. Reduce heat to medium-low (3ish on an electric stovetop). Simmer until thickened, about twenty minutes.

8. IF you're using the optional garnishes, stir in the cilantro and jalapenos. THOROUGHLY WASH YOUR HANDS after handling the jalapenos.

9. Split the hoagie rolls, top with meat and - if you wish - an avocado slice.

Enjoy an easy dinner on a holiday weekend!

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