Sloppy Joes


It’s probably ignorance on my part, but I have neither seen nor tried Sloppy Joes. Strange since I have frequented a lot of American-themed restaurants back in Manila. Does anybody know if it’s served at all in Manila?

The name itself does not scream food elegance. Per my online reading, the ingredients for sloppy joes are affordable and batch preparation, whether it be for 10 or 100 people, is quite easy to achieve. That’s why it’s a staple in school cafeteria across the US. If you are deprived of sloppy joes like I am, that’s a good thing. If you see it every Thursday of your high school life, that’s a different story.

For mothers, making sloppy joes is like a stress-free way of preparing food for little children. Children are absolute fans of it because they are allowed to make a mess while biting on to a meat-and-ketchup lathered bun.

The basic ingredients are quite common: ground beef, onion, ketchup jazzed up with other seasoningsserved in a bun. I think of it as the lazy person’s hamburger; perfect when you’re too lazy to form the patties and too lazy to grill.

Either it was an act of serendipity or a product of mindless clicking, I came across a recipe for Sloppy Joes. As luck would have it, I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen.

The original recipe you can get here.

A tweeked version that’s enough for 3 servings

Sloppy Joes

    250 g ground beef
    ½ small onion, chopped
    1 small green bell pepper, chopped
    ½ clove fresh garlic, crushed
    ½ tsp medium strength yellow mustard
    ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp ketchup
    2 tsp brown sugar
    Salt and ground pepper to taste
    Bread roll

1 Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. When fat is observed in the skillet, remove most of it but leave some to sauté the garlic and onion in one area of the pan.

2 Mix the sautéed garlic and onion plus the green bell pepper with the ground beef and cook until the meat is completely brown.

3 Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Simmer at a reduced heat setting for 10 – 15 minutes.

4 Serve in a bread roll.

IMG_1293Tweeked the garlic and sugar. I had to exchange the garlic powder from the original recipe to fresh garlic because I didn’t have garlic powder in my pantry. I had it once, but I left the lid open, humidity seeped in, and turned everything into one solid garlic rock. In terms of the sugar, I had to increase it because I couldn’t taste any hint of sweetness when I used the original amount. The addition of more brown sugar elevated the level of sweetness to detectable amounts, hence completing the flavor profile.

Green, yellow, red. I wanted to prepare a second batch of sloppy joes but I used up my single green bell pepper during my first go. I had yellow and red left from the bell pepper pack that I bought from Aldi. I opted for the yellow one because its color had a better chance of sticking out of the ketchup mix. I had to adjust the amount of sugar, this time to less than the amount I used for the first batch, because yellow bell pepper is sweeter than green bell pepper. I would suggest adding an initial 1 tsp of sugar then adding just a little bit at a time until it hits the mark.

I googled around and found two Sloppy Joe variants that I’m interested to try. One makes use of ground chicken instead of ground beef and the other leaves the meat out entirely and replaced it with rice and pinto beans.

In my head, I can picture sloppy joe recipes with chili peppers and beans to make it Spicy Jose. Is that unique at all or does it sound like an unbaked chili to you?

I wonder how a sloppy joe would taste like if the ketchup and mustard base was replaced by ready-made barbeque sauce or curry ketchup. Barbeque sauce is also one of the commonly used condiments with ketchup in preparing sloppy joes. The curry ketchup idea popped into my head just because it’s quite common here in Germany.

The ordinariness of the ingredients, the simplicity of the preparation, and the messy nature of its consumption are exactly what make Sloppy Joes special. It reeks of homecooking with a great set of flavors. And if you’re not uptight about cleanliness, it is one of the most fun food to eat alone, or better yet with friends.


7 thoughts on “Sloppy Joes

  1. the joys of caf food, but your photos remind me of a recent breakfast baon for the road– leftover arroz ala cubana in pandesal. yum! the curry ketchup version sounds like it would be a yummy sloppy joe.

  2. hi there. i recently opened my sloppy joe burger business. please check it out. my recipe is inspired from texas state, which includes beans. surely you’ll love it. hope to hear from you soon!
    -mike so chan
    chef/owner sloppy joe burger

  3. Hello Mike,

    Thanks for the heads up. I’m going home for the holidays and a trip to your sloppy joes resto is now added to my itinerary 🙂

    Now I can tell people where to get sloppy joes in Manila 🙂

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