Long was I on the lookout for a recipe for easy Sloppy Joes. Yes, of course you have your Manwich can. But I wanted a recipe that I could still make from ingredients I had on hand, even if I forgot the can. I also wanted it to be quick and easy, able to be made from frozen hamburger in case I (also) forgot to take meat out of the freezer, and able to be thrown together when I realized that I have only 30 minutes to get supper on the table, with no battle plan.
Check, check, and double check. This recipe does it all and also asks you to prom, folks.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Easy Sloppy Joes
2 lb. lean ground beef (85% or higher)
1 medium finely diced onion
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup cooking sherry (you can leave this out, but it adds that “extra something”)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 cans tomato paste (6 oz. each)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup water
Brown ground beef in a cast iron dutch oven. Break up the larger chunks until the meat is almost completely cooked. Drain the grease from the meat and discard grease. Add in chopped onion, green pepper, and garlic. Add salt and pepper if desired. Cook on medium heat until vegetables are softened and onions are slightly translucent. Stir in cooking sherry if you are using it, and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring well. Add in the remainder of the ingredients and stir well to combine. Allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
This recipe has always been one of my favorites, because it’s one of those “oh my goodness I have half an hour until supper and I don’t have anything taken out of the freezer!” meals. Yes. This is the meal you reach for when you have frozen ground beef, or unexpected company, or you need food for a crowd at a moment’s notice. This little recipe will go the distance for you. It also freezes very well after you have completed the recipe, so I often double the recipe and freeze half for an even quicker and easier meal next time.
The recipe is really so easy that I can almost tell you how to do it without even showing the process, but since we always show the process in pictures, I shall. 🙂 To start with, if you have a cast iron Dutch Oven, this is the place to use it. I am using the 5.5 qt. Le Creuset Dutch Oven, which is one of my very favorites because it browns meat like a dream and keeps the leftovers warm for seconds. Score. Read a little more about my love affair with Le Creuset, here. Anyway, start out by browning your meat over medium low heat in a large pot. As the meat cooks, occasionally turn it over and break up the cooked parts, so that the uncooked portion can have a chance for some fun in the sun.
Now, see all that grease in the first photo? We want to get rid of that. So when your meat is mostly all cooked, and you have broken up the larger clumps with a wooden spoon, pour the meat into a collander over a large, heat safe bowl, so you can get rid of the excess grease. This just keeps the recipe a little healthier and (obviously), less greasy.
Pour the drained meat back into your pan, and add in the onions, green pepper, and minced garlic. I like to salt and pepper the meat at this time, as well. I usually just season to taste– and the flavors are bold enough that you don’t need too much. Let the vegetables cook for a few minutes until they have softened and become slightly translucent.
Add in your cooking sherry and cook a few more minutes. You don’t “have” to use the cooking sherry, and it’s hard to explain what it adds to a recipe. You know that feeling you get when you step out of a cold, snowy day into someone’s warm house? Your entire being enveloped in warmth and cheer? Sherry adds that. And don’t worry– all the alcohol evaporates out, so it’s perfectly fine for kids to eat it.
After the sherry has simmered with the vegetables for 3 minutes or so, go ahead and add in the rest of the ingredients. Yep. Just pour everything in there and stir. The meat is already hot, so it should only take a few minutes for everything else to get to the perfect eating temperature.
Break out some buns and bags of chips. Have a picnic. Seriously I told you this was easy. You will never need to buy manwich again.
If I have some “sloppy” left over, I freeze it in individual sandwich bags. That way on hurried school nights I can pull a bag out of the freezer the night before and stash it in the fridge. Then when it’s supper time the next day, all I have to do is microwave the meat, throw it on the table (well, not literally throw), and dinner is served. I have even used this in taco salad in a pinch. Yeahhhh it’s not really taco, but it seems to work.
And who can deny that good ‘ole sloppy joes are perfect for a summer picnic? There’s nothing better than a mess, unless that mess it outside. 😉
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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