We have had a wet Spring here. Good for the grass, but not good for the grill or my craving for beef between a bun. The first time I made these they were good, but they just needed something. I made a big batch, so I put the rest in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal. When it was time pull out that frozen batch, I warmed it on the stove and kept tasting it trying to figure out what was missing.
It turns out that the meat mixture wasn't missing anything, but the sandwich was. I like texture, not just flavor in my food so the meat sauce in a bun just wasn't doing it for me. My husband and son suggested onions and mustard. That helped it a bunch, but it still needed something. My son suggested one more thing--bread and butter pickles. I gave him a funny look. Unfortunately, I lost my taste for bread and butter pickles after eating too many at "Happy Hour" as a kid, but I do keep them in the house for the rest of the family. Seeing as how he was right about the onions and mustard (a little mayonnaise doesn't hurt either) I went with it. End result-- "winner winner weeknight dinner" and I can now enjoy bread and butter pickles again!
This freezes beautifully, so make a double batch. Also, make sure you use a sturdy bun to sandwich the "sloppy" meat sauce. I use my White Bread recipe and shape it into 6 big buns. I highly recommend you do the same.
Sloppy Sophisto Joes
makes 6 servings
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
6 buns, sliced
mayonnaise (not the salad dressing stuff)
sweet onion, like Vidalia or Georgia, sliced into rings
bread and butter pickles
In a large skillet ( bigger if you are doubling the recipe) over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the carrot, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook until brown, breaking up any large clumps, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, remaining salt and black pepper and cook, stirring every few moments, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for another minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, wine, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar and boil, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with additional salt and black pepper if needed.
Slather a bit of mayonnaise on each bun half. Spoon some of the meat sauce on the bottom of each of the buns, top with a few onion slices, some bread and butter pickles, and a drizzle of yellow mustard. Add the top half of the bun. Smoosh together and take a big bite. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Gourmet, October 2007