Sloppy Joes are a wonderful comfort food....I find the combination of saucy, slightly spicy meat and tomato sauce and gooey, melted cheese on a warm bun to be so easy to eat...it reminds me of things like lasagne, grilled cheese, meatball subs...all in one meal!
I had some tomato sauce to use, and a bit of mozzarella cheese, so I decided to make some Sloppy Joes. I played around with it a bit, adding some caramelized onions, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.
The tanginess of the vinegar was a pleasant surprise, it offset the smokiness of the paprika, and the sweetness of the tomato sauce and onions.
Using a drizzle of olive oil, cook until starting to soften:
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground back pepper
12 ounces ground turkey
Cook, breaking the turkey up as it cooks, and seasoning with a bit more salt and pepper.
When the turkey is no longer pink, add the spices:
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
Leave the turkey to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
While the turkey is cooking you can caramelize the onions. Thinly slice one medium onion, and cook over medium low heat in olive oil, stirring often, until the onions have softened, and turned a deep golden brown.
To finish off the Sloppy Joes, turn the broiler on to high.
Slice 4 long buns in half, but not all the way through. Place on a baking sheet.
Divide the caramelized onions between the 4 buns.
To finish off the turkey, stir in:
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan
When the cheese has melted, stir in:
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Divide the turkey between the four buns.
Sprinkle a bit of grated mozzarella over the turkey.
Place the baking sheet into the oven, watching the cheese and buns carefully under the broiler.
When the cheese has melted and is bubbling, the Sloppy Joes are ready to serve...along with lots of napkins. As the name implies, these are messy to eat, but so yummy all the same!
- I chose to use ground turkey for a few reasons, one being that it was available, and the other being that I prefer it to ground beef as it is a bit leaner. Ground beef, pork or chicken can be used. You can also add in sausage meat that has been removed from the casings...this adds a lot of interesting flavours, and there are so many wonderful sausage choices available these days.
- Make a large batch of the meat and freeze some, it can be used for other things such as assembling a lasagne, cannelloni or simply used as a meat sauce for pasta.
- If your sauce reduces too much, you can add more sauce, water or chicken stock to reach the desired consistency.
- Play around with the spices...use Spanish paprika instead of smoked; add chili flakes or chipotle chiles; add some garlic powder.
- Chopped tomatoes can be added if you have some overripe tomatoes that need to be used.
- Other cheeses that can be used are provolone, bocconcini, white cheddar.
- Any long bun works for the Sloppy Joes, but try and avoid really soft ones such as hot dog buns as the meat will turn them to mush. Aim for something like a hoagie bun, ciabatta bun or even baguette that has been cut into shorter pieces.
- The buns can be toasted before the onions and meat are added...brush them with olive oil, melted butter, garlic or herb butter after you have split them, and pop them into the oven, or onto the grill for a couple of minutes to toast.