Hello friends! I am so happy you’re here, I have a super fun recipe today. As a kid in the 70s and 80s I have fond memories of eating Sloppy Joes; mostly at my Grandma’s house in the summer time. I am sure she made hers with the recognizable packet of McCormick Sloppy Joes Seasoning; and I loved them. The loose meat sandwich wasn’t new then, in fact its origins go all the way back to the 1930s; with the first mention of Sloppy Joes in the 1940s. A classic, in my book. I hadn’t had Sloppy Joes in probably 30 years, and never from scratch, so I thought it might be a fun recipe to do here. Let’s do it! Updated Classic: Not So Sloppy Joes.
This recipe starts with an interesting technique I learned from America’s Test Kitchen. We will mix the ground beef with a slurry of baking soda and water. This slurry helps the ground beef retain moisture when cooked. A good tip to keep in your back pocket! Mix the slurry and add it to the ground beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and lightly mix the slurry into the beef and set aside.
Now it’s time to make the sauce: a rich and deeply flavored sauce that I think you’ll find is so much more flavorful than the McCormick packet. Another baking soda trick here; we are going to sauté the onions with baking soda to help them soften more quickly. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and cook, stirring often until the onions are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Then add garlic and stir constantly for about 30 seconds.
Next, add the sugar, paprika, salt, and red pepper flakes to the onions and stir continuously until the paprika is fragrant, only one minute or so.
Then add the tomato paste and stirring constantly, cook until the tomato paste has darkened in color, about 3-4 minutes.
Now it’s time for the ground beef. Toss it in and break it up as it cooks. once it’s mostly cooked, ATK recommends using a potato masher to get nice, small crumbles of ground beef. Well, I don’t have a potato masher, so I am getting my arm workout by using my flat wooden spatula to break up the ground beef.
Now, the classic ingredient I am sure you were expecting: ketchup. And we have Worcestershire and red wine vinegar. Mix well to combine.
Then our last ingredient is a corn starch slurry to thicken it all up to create our Not So Sloppy Joes.
Loose Meat Sandwich
Alright, everyone. We have our Not So Sloppy Joes ready, we have Martins classic potato buns, and I have made a cole slaw (per Alex’s request).
Instead of pickle chips, I am topping these with our favorite Doux South Red Onion Cult Pickled Onions.
Updated Classic: Not So Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joes have a reputation for being a sloppy staple on the elementary school cafeteria tray. I think this recipe not only dispels that reputation, but makes it a dish worthy of any casual family get together, or if you’re like me and Alex, a perfect Thursday night dinner, sans kids. So get on the Not So Sloppy Joes bus with us!
Thank you all for spending some time with me today, I hope you give this updated classic a try, and don’t forget the tip about the baking soda in the meat mixture and when sautéing the onions! It’s a super helpful tip useful for all kinds of recipes. If you want to try another updated classic, try my Smoked Meatloaf and Cauliflower Mashies! Remember you can find all the Djalali Cooks recipes on Pinterest, so hop over and give me a follow so you can have all the recipes with easy access.
Not So Sloppy Joes
An updated classic, this recipe is super easy with a trick to keep the ground beef super moist. Rich and deeply flavored, it's the Sloppy Joes of your memories, only better, and from scratch!
- 2 tbsp. Water, divided
- 1/2 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. Baking Soda, divided
- 1 lb. 85 or 90 percent Lean Ground Beef
- 1/2 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. Kosher Salt, divided
- 2 tsp. Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Onion, chopped fine
- 2 Garlic Coves, minced
- 2 tsp. Packed Brown Sugar, plus extra for seasoning
- 2 tsp. Paprika
- 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
- 1/3 cup Ketchup
- 1 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Cornstarch
- 4 Hamburger Buns
Combine 1 tablespoon water and ½ teaspoon baking soda in small bowl.
In large bowl, lightly mix beef with baking soda mixture and ½ teaspoon salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and remaining ⅛ teaspoon baking soda and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in sugar, paprika, pepper flakes, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, until paprika is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is rust-colored, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Mash beef with potato masher until fine-textured, about 1 minute.
Add ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits.
Combine cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water in small bowl, then pour cornstarch mixture over beef and stir to incorporate.
Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and coats beef, about 1 minute.
Season with salt, extra sugar, and extra vinegar to taste.
Spoon beef mixture onto buns and serve.