I will deny ever saying this, but my mom was not the greatest of cooks. I’m told it was because her mom wasn’t either, and now that I think about it, I don’t really remember my gran. Whatever the case, there were a few things that she did really well. She made very yummy desserts, a mean steak, delicious mac and cheese, and my favourite, Sloppy Joe’s. We still have her old handwritten recipe book, and while there are some recipes I will never make (I’m talking about you sweet and sour meatballs), there are some that I will. Regardless of whether or not they make the cut for me to cook, I will post them here occasionally, so that if someone does want to try them, they can.
With a name like Sloppy Joe, you wouldn’t think I’d say this next line but for me it’s about balancing the flavour.Too much of one thing and it or too little of another and throws the whole thing off. This is one of my favourite childhood meals, and I always know when I’ve got the spice amount right by how it smells. The nose knows.
It starts with the meat (my favourite vegetable), you’ve got to brown it by itself first, nothing else in with it, but the pan and the meat. I go for Lean Ground, if it’s not lean, it all cooks away and you’re left with a heck tonne of grease. Too lean and you don’t get enough grease for flavour. Remember, flavour is the key. Once I’ve finished browing the meat, I take it out of the pot, pour out all but a couple of tablespoons of the grease. (my mom called this meat juce, true story, check it out in the pic of the recipe) Then I’ll saute the onion and green pepper until tender as directed by chef mom.
Once you’ve got the onion and pepper tenderized you start blending the rest of the ingredients. Next comes the sugar, you’re not putting alot in but it helps to cut down the acidity. Now comes the next step. Mom always used to put vinegar in and I personally love white vinegar. I’ll eat it on my fries, my favourite potato chip growing up was Salt and Vinegar so I never minded it. However, vinegar is not for everyone, and I totally get that. I hate mayonnaise. The compromise I came up with is pickle juice. Mom always put 2 tablespoons of vinegar in, I however just put a splash of pickel juice in and move on. The next 3 ingredients are where the smell factor really starts kicking in. I’d love to say there’s a truly exact measurement for the nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon, but the “nose Knows” You really have to go by preference with spices. You can’t remove it if you add too much, but you can add more if you start out with small amounts.
We’ve all bought Ground Beef, and it will state that it’s “X” number of kilgrams or pounds. There is no way I’m going to put ground beef on a scale and weight it exacts. I cook this dish for 7-9 people all the time, so I’ll either double or triple the ingredients. For tonight’s dinner I had to double it. Mom called for 1/2 tsp of each. That’s where I always start. I will then add a quick sprinkle of each more until it smells right to me. For a single batch, follow the recipe and directions, you can’t go wrong. Once you’ve hit the perfect balance let me tell you, it’s at this point that the mouth starts watering. Let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes making sure you’re stirring it every so often so it doesn’t scorch.
After 20 minutues, mix the meat into the sauce and simmer for another 20. To keep myself distracted I’ll usually set the table while the sauce simmers, then while the whole mixture blends together I’ll cut the pickles. You have to use Dill people, no substitutes. I slice them thin so they can be stacked on the sandwich. The other thing I never deviate from? Ruffles. We always had Ruffles with Sloppy Joes when I was a kid. It’s tradition, and trust me, it’s a good tradition. Now, if you happen to live somewhere that Ruffle’s aren’t available, then I feel bad for you, but will say, it’s ok. Just makes sure the chips are rippled, otherwise when you go to scoop the meat of your plate that has fallen off your sandwhich they’ll break.
We always end up with a tonne of leftovers that then get enjoyed over the next couple of days. Just like mom did, we eat them on hamburger buns, and as stated above, meat will fall out and you have to scoop it up. I always start with a bed of ruffles on the bottom bun slice, put the meat on top, then a layer of pickels and cap it. That’s how I enjoy them. Let me know if you try the recipe, and how you enjoy them.
The Ingredients: Single Batch
1 1/2 to 2 lbs Ground Beef
1 Medium Green Pepper Chopped or Diced
1 Medium Onion Chopped or Diced
Approx 750ml of Ketchup. I say approximately because some folks like extra saucy, some don’t. Adjust to your preference.
2 Tblsp Yellow Mustard
1 Tblsp White Sugar
2 Tablsp White Vinegar, or like I do substitute pickel juice.
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Allspice
Ruffles Potato Chips
Brown the ground beef and transfer to a container for later. Using a few tablespoons of the grease from the meat saute the onions and green pepper until tender. Add the Ketchup, Mustard and dry ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick and scorch. Add the meat into the sauce and simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns with Ruffles on the side and pickels for garnish and munching.