When I was a kid, it was a bad day when my mom made fish for dinner, which was generally accompanied by canned stewed tomatoes (the ones with the little green bits), warmed just enough to accentuate the flavors and served in little glass dishes.
It was a great night when we had sloppy Joes. I’ve been thinking about that cheddar beer bread, and how great a slab of it would be topped with sloppy Joe stuff. I had some extra-lean ground beef in the freezer, and a couple of kaiser buns taking up space, but next time I’m going to use ground bison and make a cheddar-beer loaf. (I should add that we always have a tub of spring green mix in the fridge to dip into whenever dinner is lacking in the greens department. They don’t always make it into the photos!)
Of course, any ground meat would work; if you go the ground chicken/turkey route, keep in mind that supermarkets generally don’t trim the fat from poultry before they grind it, so it’s best to trim the skin and fat from turkey or chicken breasts or thighs yourself, then pulse it in your food processor until it’s as coarsely or finely ground as you like. Dark thigh meat is much more flavorful than white meat because of its slightly higher fat content, but it still contains far less fat than even lean ground beef does.
olive or canola oil, for cooking
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (optional)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, bison, turkey or chicken, or a combination
1 28 oz. (796 mL) can diced, whole, or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup or half ketchup, half barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
A few shots of Tabasco (optional)
Salt and pepper
6 plain soft buns, cheese buns, or biscuits
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, red pepper and garlic for about 10 minutes, until the onions are starting to turn golden. Add the meat and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking it up as you cook, until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Split the buns or biscuits in half and ladle the sloppy Joe mixture on top. Serves 4-6.