It’s interesting what triggers our food cravings. Sometimes it’s something subtle like flipping through the pages of a magazine and seeing a photo of a grilled steak. Or noticing someone eating a peach, juices dripping down their chin. Maybe you just strolled through your neighborhood and smelled the aroma of BBQ in the air. Or you heard a voice over the PA system in a grocery store announcing, “Stop by our bakery department for a hot loaf of French bread, fresh out of the oven.” The other day I came across ‘Sloppy Joe’ in my Food Lover’s Companion cooking guide, and I immediately had an intense desire for one.
Sloppy Joes, to me, are not that great but they are quick and easy to prepare, and there is something about the flavor of a Sloppy Joe that reminds me of how much I enjoyed eating them as a child. An American classic, the Sloppy Joe is a kid-friendly sandwich.
Having made my decision to make Sloppy Joes I thought about my options: packaged Sloppy Joe seasoning or canned—Manwich—which I’ve never tasted. But then, I recalled a very short Sloppy Joe article and recipe that I stumbled across in a SAVEUR magazine last year. I googled the keywords and quickly found the article, titled “Sloppy Joes.” Talk about simplicity. The recipe is a version of a 1945 old-timey one titled “Barbecued Ground Beef,” from the vintage cookbook My Best Meat Recipes, from the National Live Stock and Meat Board.
After printing out the recipe and looking at the ingredient list I thought, ‘Really!? This is it? Butter, onion, bell pepper, ground beef, ketchup, mustard, white vinegar, sugar, ground cloves, salt, black pepper, and buns?’ I tried to imagine the flavor of these components combined and cooked but my mind could not register these simple ingredients as the Sloppy Joe I loved so much as a kid, but I’ll be damned, I was wrong. I’ll never buy packaged Sloppy Joe seasoning again, ever.
The vinegar and cloves are the magical ingredients in this Sloppy Joe recipe, and I increased the measurements for both. I did not have ground cloves, only whole, so I smashed a few in my mortal and pestle. One thing I’ve discovered from making this recipe is that I really, really like vinegar. My Sloppy Joe craving was satisfied beyond expectation.
The next time you’re craving a Sloppy Joe, try SAVEUR’s “Sloppy Joes” recipe. You will not be disappointed, and it’s a keeper.
09.12.11 Update: Since I came back to this recipe tonight, I decided to pop in a song so this post will now match my food + music blog theme.
Many times, when I am preparing a dish, I will try and find an association between the dish and my possible choice of music. Whenever I prepare Sloppy Joes I always think about the song “Hey Joe.” Not the popular Jimi Hendrix version, but Buckwheat Zydeco’s version. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing and meeting Stanley Dural, Jr. (Buckwheat) a couple of times, and the first time I heard him perform “Hey Joe” I was convinced that he can play any genre of music on his magical accordion.