Autumn is our favorite time of year, and not just because kids go back to school, the weather cools and the leaves are gorgeous shades of red and orange and yellow. Autumn equals football season at our house, with long hours of practice, weigh-ins, protein powder, and terrible smells coming from stinky equipment in the front hall. When gameday arrives, the excitement is palpable, and we enjoy every minute as parents in the stands, regardless of the weather. Through sleet, snow, wind and rain, one thing is certain. Mom does not want to cook when she gets home. This is the season that my slow cooker gets a real workout, and one of the great gameday meals for families with kids in football (or hockey) requires a good Sloppy Joe recipe and a slow cooker.
A messy and delicious saucy mixture to serve over toasted bread, buns, or even mashed potatoes, there are conflicting stories regarding who invented the recipe for Sloppy Joes. One story is that a cook in Key West developed it, another claims a man named Joe in Sioux City Iowa is the father of the beloved American dish. There isn’t one definitive original recipe for Sloppy Joes, instead there are many, many variations. This recipe includes vegetables and there is a Vegetarian and Turkey Sloppy Joe Recipe following the instructions. If you prefer not to use a crockpot, cook it in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring from time to time. Serve your Sloppy Joes over toasted bread accompanied by caesar salad and a glass of milk for a healthy, hearty, and easy meal on gameday.
How to Make Sloppy Joes From Scratch
2 pounds extra lean ground beef
2 heaping tablespoons chopped garlic in oil
1/2 cooking onion, diced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup Diana’s Maple Smoked Hickory Barbeque Sauce (or whatever type of bbq sauce you have on hand)
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsps French’s regular prepared mustard
2 tbsps + 1 tsp vinegar
2 tbsps + 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder OR Taco Seasoning mix
12 whole grain buns or sliced bread
Using a large skillet, cook the onions, garlic and ground beef in a little oil over medium high heat. Once the ground beef is completely browned, ensure all fat is drained off then pour the ground beef mixture into a slow cooker (at least a 3 1/2 quart size.) Add all remaining ingredients except the whole wheat buns or bread. Give the mixture a good stir and cover. Set at low for about 6 hours or on high for about 3 hours. Just prior to serving, toast the buns or bread.
This recipe makes approximately 12 hearty servings.
For a spicier Sloppy Joe recipe add 2 small finely diced jalapeno peppers, or increase the chili powder to 2 tablespoons. If you are really brave, try both.
For a richer flavor, replace the brown sugar with 3 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses.
For Vegan or Vegetarian Sloppy Joes, simply omit the ground beef and add 2 more carrots, 2 more celery stalks, and one pound of tofu.
Turkey Sloppy Joes are delicious; experiment with seasonings as you may find need to add 1/2 teaspoon more of chili powder or taco seasoning.