There are some meals that make you wonder how they got their name. London Broil, for instance. If you ordered it in London, you’d probably get a chuckle or a confused stare because no one in London actually eats London Broil.
But then there’s the sloppy Joe. If ever a meal was aptly named, this one is. The only question is, “Who is Joe?” Theories differ, some claiming that the sandwich came from a restaurant in Havana, Cuba called Sloppy Joe’s, others saying it was actually a restaurant in Key West that gave it its name. A third contingent argues that sloppy Joes earned their name because they were made by an Iowan chef named Joe.
Whatever the origins, the name couldn’t be more perfect. Though eating them neatly is impossible–and grates against the spirit of the meal anyhow–sloppy Joes make great meals to feed a crowd. Their sweet, salty flavor satisfies hungry guests. Sloppy Joe recipes satisfy busy cooks, too, because the recipes come together easily and can be made ahead and warmed in a crock pot.
If you’re feeding a crowd, you can even buy Lone Star Farm’s heat & serve sloppy Joe mix, available by the quart. It’s great on sandwiches, and the Beiler family loves it on top of fresh baked potatoes topped with sour cream and cheese.
If you’re planning to make sloppy Joes from scratch and want to add some “fancy” to the traditional sloppy Joe recipe, brighten the meal by adding some colorful bell peppers to the mix. Then serve sloppy Joe meat on pretzel rolls (homemade, if you’d like!) and make a side of sweet potato fries or this healthy Garden Harvest Slaw (it’s the third recipe on the page).
Here is my favorite recipe for some fancy sloppy Joes. I’ve played with it a bit, but it originally came from a friend who brought dinner to my husband and me several years ago when my husband was going through a long illness. It was the perfect meal to fortify us, and I have always been thankful that she shared it with me and I’ve made it many times since, to feed guests or just to satisfy my own cravings for a delicious, hearty meal.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 colorful bell pepper
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- water, if needed to achieve the right consistency
- Brown meat in a frying pan with onion, bell pepper and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Serve on soft rolls.
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