I'm sure the first question that crosses your mind when you saw the title of this post is "why would I make my own Sloppy Joes from scratch when I can just open a can of Sloppy Joe sauce?" I think that's a valid question. In fact, I asked myself that. However, sometimes you turn the can around and read the label and you might see words like mono sodium glutamate or high fructose corn syrup and you think, "do I need to add more of that to my diet?" Now, I'm actually not an MSG-hater and HFCS is something I could do without but if it sneaks in here and there, I'm not going to freak out. But the most important reason to make your own Sloppy Joes is to make them taste better, have the texture to your own liking, and choose your own ingredients.
For this version, I decided to ground turkey instead of the usual ground beef. I also prefer a smooth consistency to my Sloppy Joe so I pulsed my vegetables in the food processor but if you like a chunkier version, by all means, cut the vegetables how you like. In fact, you could probably use a coarse grind of meat (beef, turkey, pork) and a larger dice of onions and bell peppers to make a hearty version of this school cafeteria staple. Or maybe you could make a vegetarian version by processing a medley of vegetables and along with tofu or lentils? I guess the message is, make it how you want!
I think the key to this recipe is to make sure you develop the flavors of the vegetables so they give their all. So take your time to sauté the vegetables first. Then, make sure you add the spices and sauté that for a minute so all of their flavors are brought out. You can use this recipe as a guide for the spices but please adjust the quantities of the spices to tailor the flavor to your taste. Maybe you want a bolder, spicier version? Maybe you like it to be sweeter? Maybe you want to bring in a wild card spice like cinnamon?
Ingredients: 20 oz ground turkey, 1 small bell pepper, 1 small onion, 3 cloves minced garlic, 3 oz tomato paste, 2 TB brown sugar, 1 tsp mustard, 2 TB paprika, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 TB white wine vinegar, 1 TB Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper
- Process or chop the onions and bell peppers to your liking.
- Film the bottom of large skillet and heat.
- Add your onions and bell peppers and sauté until soft and they begin to brown.
- Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Add your dry spices - paprika, chili powder and toast in the hot skillet for a minute.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or so.
- Add the sugar, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and combine well.
- Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and mix well to combine.
- Cook until the turkey is cooked through and the consistency is to your liking.
- Taste it and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
- Scoop the mixture onto the bun of your choice, with the toppings of your choice, and eat!