Posted by: dinainsuburbia | September 21, 2008

sloppy joe saturday

When’s the last time you had a sloppy joe?  Probably elementary school, right?  It had been a while for me, too.  I know there is a canned sloppy joe product out there on the market; but I am COMPLETELY opposed to eating meat out of a can.  I think this all goes back to Hurricane Gloria in 1985.  I was 10 years old and people on Long Island were freaking out because we don’t normally get hurricanes.  My memories of Gloria? 

1) the radio stations had Gloria by Laura Branigan on MAJOR rotation.  My dad got a huge kick out of this, and every time it came on, blasted the radio.

2) we filled our bathtub with water.  I guess we did this for either drinking or to flush the bowl in the event that the water supply was damaged.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case.

3) my mom stocked up on large amounts of canned foods that could be eaten sans electricity.  One of these items was spam.  I believe I ate two bites.  I can say, without doubt, that it was one of the most disgusting things I have EVER eaten (right behind sea urchin sushi.. that definitely takes slot #1).

Right… what does all of this have to do with sloppy joes you ask?  It’s because of my spam experience that I have developed a fear of canned meats… hence the fact that I haven’t eaten a sloppy joe since elementary school!

Luckily, Rachel Ray is a huge fan of the sloppy joe.  Ever looking for more and more meals that can be fixed quickly, she has quite a few variations on the sloppy joe available.  And because my husband has the food preferences of an elementary school student, I figured I’d give it a shot.

The winner, RR’s cuban sloppy joes.  I was looking for something that was more than ground hamburger and canned tomato sauce.  This was a winner.   The recipe involved making fresh mojo sauce.  Because I didn’t use the full 2 pounds of ground beef that the recipe required, we had quite a bit of mojo left over.  I imagine it would be a great fish marinade, so I froze it and will break it out when inspired (and when I can be OK with the garlic breath- sheesh, this stuff is powerful).  


Here’s the recipe with my comments:

For the mojo:

10 cloves of garlic, cracked from the skin (I used 10- this was too much .. and that’s saying something because I love garlic.. next time I would stick with 6 or 7 cloves).

1 medium onion peeled & coarsely chopped

2 tsps ground cumin

1 lemon, zested & juiced (go ahead, invest in a microplane- I swear, you’ll use it all the time, I do)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1/4 cup water

For the mojo just throw the garlic, onion, cumin, lemon juice, and zest in the food processor.  Once combined, add olive oil in a steady stream while processor is running, then add the water.  Set aside.


For the Joes:

2 pounds ground sirloin

1/4 cup green olives with pimiento, finely chopped (I only had regular green olives, no pimiento- that worked just fine)

1 tbsp paprika (I used Spanish Paprika- I can’t imagine you’d use Hungarian Paprika in “Cuban” sloppy joes)

2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce (or, as we call it, whatsthishere sauce)

1 tbsp hot pepper sauce (I used Franks, but next time might use something with more bite)

1 cup tomato sauce (I used the cheap store brand- go ahead, you’re putting so much spice into it, it really doesn’t matter)

palmful of grill seasoning (McCormick Brand Montreal Steak Seasoning- has anyone gotten to the bottom as to why it’s called MONTREAL steak seasoning?  Why not Toronto Steak Seasoning?)

Crusty Rolls


Heat a medium nonstick skilled over medium-high heat.  Add the beef & brown.  Add half the mojo and crumble the meat as it cooks, about 3 minutes.  Add olives, paprika, worcestershire, hot pepper sauce, tomato sauce, and grill seasoning.  Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low.  Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.  

I didn’t add the olives because my husband is completely opposed to them in anything.  So opposed to them, he actually saw them on my cutting board and said, “what are those for?”  I had to assure him that I was only putting them on my sandwich, not his!  

I suppose, though, that he’s right to be suspicious.  I oftentimes do not adjust my cooking style/recipes to his tastes, and make him suffer through, or starve.  He is also opposed to eating cute animals- like lamb, rabbit, etc.  I find nothing wrong with lamb.. in fact, I love it.  I’ve made ground lamb patties a few times and told him it was regular chopped meat.  After a few bites, he always figures it out and gives me “the look”… You know, that “you’re a killer of really cute animals” look…


Anyway- I toasted our crusty rolls before piling on the meat.


For a side, I roasted the cherry tomatoes I had from the garden.  I couldn’t take them on the counter anymore, looking at me pitifully as if to say, “if you don’t like us, why did you plant us?”  I don’t know why- I don’t really LIKE raw tomatoes.  In my most recent Domino magazine (I know, not known for their recipes) there was a spread about a dinner party.  In it, the author roasted cherry tomatoes and used them as the base for a salad dressing.  I did the same and it was delish!

Here it goes:  

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Leave some tomatoes whole, half others.  Throw in pan and add about one tablespoon of good olive oil, some kosher salt and  few grinds of black pepper.  Let roast for about 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Dump tomatoes and juices from pan in a small bowl as the base for your salad dressing. Add vinegar to taste (I used sherry vinegar, the author advised white balsamic).  Toss tomato/dressing mixture into salad (mine had romaine lettuce and red onions).   


So, there it is- sloppy joe saturday.  Not the best culinary invention ever… but quick, cheap, and not so much mess!



  1. I don’t find it disturbing at all to see your ‘abstinence’ from spam.

    In fact, one of our students here cried in butchery class – She was presented a naked chicken (feathers off), but giblets intact.

    She never had another piece of chicken later. =D

  2. Hurricane Gloria!! My sisters and I were just reminiscing about it the other day.

    We evacuated to MHS and were bored out of our minds. Our next door neighbors had enough food with them to feed an army…we were jealous.

    I also vaguely remember my dad boiling water…

    Yup, Gloria was definitely the theme song! Love it.

    Sloppy Joes! I haven’t felt like eating much today, but that made me hungry… 🙂

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