Growing up, Sloppy Joe’s were a mystery meat surprise served by my elementary school cafeteria ladies with big hair nets, too much eye makeup and colored stockings with sneakers. None of this looked good.
This was my only exposure to the sloppy Joe as my Puerto Rican parents had no clue what a sloppy Joe was, and at the time, were lucky they didn’t know.
Fast forward to present day. I now know that a real sloppy joe can be made without the use of the can sauce and be done so in less than 30 minutes. My version has something top secret on the inside. Veggies! That’s right. I used a mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) purée that I added as the base of the sloppy joe. Not only does it add flavor, but it also gets those veggies in.
3 carrots, shaved clean and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
2 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
Directions: Purée in a blender and set aside 1 cup for the recipe.
Double it for future use. This is a great base for red sauces, stews, meat loaves (cooked prior to adding to meatloaf), and much more.
Here is my quick version of a classic that everyone at the table will love.
Sloppy Joe Recipe
2 lbs grass fed ground beef, or ground meat of your choice
1 Tbsp. Olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 C. Mirepoix purée (recipe above)
1 C. Organic ketchup
1 Tbsp. Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar, or regular vinegar
2 Tbsp. Mustard
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. black cracked pepper
1 tsp. black strap molasses*
2 tsp. tapioca starch*
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or a tsp. Tabasco, optional
**black strap molasses has a smoky and bitterness flavor to it. It was added to help balance the sweetness of the ketchup. If you do not have black strap molasses you can omit it.
**Tapioca starch is a thickening agent. If you do not have tapioca starch, you can use cornstarch, if you do not have an allergy to corn or can tolerate it.
1. Heat a large Dutch oven or stock pot to medium high heat. Once heated, add oil, mirepoix purée and cook for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add meat, salt and pepper to purée mixture and stir frequently to keep chunks from forming.
3. While the meat is cooking, add the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
4. Add sauce to the meat mixture, drop the heat to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes with the lid on.
Tips from this Little Red Bird:
1. Of course you can do this with bread, but you can also serve inside of lettuce cups, tortilla chips, wraps, a stuffing for stuffed potatoes. Endless possibilities.
2. You can change up the seasoning and put your own spin on it. For example, you could add fresh ginger, lime juice, GF soy sauce or coconut aminos, hoisin sauce and green onions to give it some Asian flare. You can also use your own favorite spice blends.
3. This isn’t just for lunch but I’ve also has this for breakfast on top of a side of diced red potatoes and a sunny side up egg. Yum.
4. This is a meal that can be made in bulk to save time and made ahead of time. Extras can be frozen.