Yes, I said it: sloppy Joes! Okay, so it’s a guilty pleasure, but I see no guilt in eating it when I really want something to satisfy my childhood craving. The subtle spices of sloppy Joes can be something to master, although once you do, I’m telling you, you won’t think twice about making that ground beef in your fridge into one of these. This is almost like southwest style Bolognese on bread with cheese. I know it’s more probable that the spices for the once eaten sloppy Joes of your childhood would squander in comparison to the sophisticated spice rack you now have, but I’m saying, forsake it all and go with your gut. Eat until your heart’s content, just like the youngster you once were.
My brother-in-law enjoys sloppy Joes and as a kid, my parents would make them on occasion. They were those thick tomato and greasy beef types, where we were more excited to make a mess than actually eat the things. I know my sister wasn’t a big fan of them at all, but I changed her mind today. These sloppy Joes are slow simmered, with fresh tomatoes and tomato paste, herbs and spices, and the slight sweetness that no sloppy Joes can be without. Lots of fresh veggies are added to this mix in order to make a more flavorful and substantial meal. So win over the kiddies, and even the inner kid in yourself, by making these Messy Moes!
½ red bell pepper, minced
½ white onion, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon dry parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 ½ pounds of ground beef
8 roma tomatoes
6-ounce can of tomato paste
3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup of loose brown sugar
2 tablespoons of ketchup
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
In a blender, add water, tomatoes, brown sugar and a couple pinches of black pepper. Liquefy for about 3 minutes until everything is nicely incorporated and the tomatoes are completely smooth, creating the tomato puree.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and heat until warm.
Add white onions, bell pepper, green onions, dry parsley, and celery.
Cook for about 5-7 minutes until softened slightly.
Add smoked paprika and garlic powder and incorporate with vegetables, cooking for a couple minutes more.
Add beef to skillet. Mix-in completely, breaking up the meat with a spoon or a whisk, into small pieces and mixing in the vegetables together well.
Cook for 8 -10 minutes until meat is completely browned.
Reduce heat to medium, add 6 ounces of tomato paste to the meat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Now add tomato puree mixture to the skillet.
Check to see how much liquid is in the mixture, after you stir everything together. Depending on how big and how juicy your tomatoes are, you may need to add more water to your Messy Moes mixture.
Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. About 20 minutes in, add Worcestershire sauce and ketchup to sauce.
Adjust salt content and sweetness to your desired preference.
The sauce should now be thickened and ready to serve with American cheese and a white potato bun or white bun of your preference.
If the mixture looks too thin, continue to cook the sauce until most of the liquid has evaporated.
When creating Messy Moes the balance of spice, salt and sweetness is critical to their success. I like my Messy Moes with the addition of a small pinch of cayenne and a little extra salt, aside from the salt content in the Worcestershire and ketchup. If you’re looking to cut out some excess calories or salt content, take out both of those items and the sugar and you can have a very nice veggie meat spread for a sandwich. But then it’s not really a Messy Moe; it’s closer to a Bolognese sauce, which can be good with pasta.
This can be made with tofu, ground turkey or ground chicken. Decrease cooking time for leaner protein so they don’t dry out by about 10 minutes. Tofu will have excess liquid, so be sure to decrease the water to1/4 – 1/2 a cup. Messy Moes can be made ahead of time and cooled and stored in the fridge. The flavor will develop even more the next day.
Also, if you’re making these for children, you can puree the vegetables onions, celery and red peppers into the tomato mixture so they won’t be able to see them; a very handy trick.
If you don’t have the additional ingredients or the time to make the tomato puree, you can use canned tomato sauce (about 24 ounces) and 1 cup of water instead, but reduce the salt content and taste it because canned tomato sauce has added salt to it. The fresh tomatoes from the puree add natural sweetness and balance well with the meat, adding nutrition without preservatives, but I’m all for quality canned tomato sauce as well.
Also, I added this sweet vinegar coleslaw to contrast to the hearty thick sandwich.
Red Cabbage, Peanut and Carrot Molasses Coleslaw
½ small head of red cabbage, shredded
2 stalks of celery, minced
½ red pepper
¼ red onion, minced
3 carrots, shredded finely
1 ½ pinches of black pepper
2 tablespoons of molasses
½ lime, juiced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
8 ounces roasted peanuts
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl add vinegars, lime juice, oil, black pepper, molasses, brown sugar and a pinch of salt to this mixture, then add the minced red onions and set aside.
In a large bowl, grate red cabbage using the larger holes of the box grater. Then, using the medium to small holes of the box grater, grate the carrots. Note: If you don’t have any different sides, just grate it all the same. You can also use a food processor with a grating attachment, in place of the box grater.
Add minced pepper and celery.
Add the dressing to the mixture of vegetables and mix together thoroughly. Add roasted peanuts. If necessary, season with a bit more salt to taste.
Let flavors meld together for at least 20 minutes; the longer it sits in the fridge the better.
I hope you enjoy some Messy Moes, the way you like it.