Who doesn’t love Sloppy Joes? I always used to wonder why people would use packets or cans of sloppy joe sauce growing up because I learned how to make them from scratch thanks for a cookbook for children that I once had. The ingredients were so easy, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to use something from a can instead. I mean, I understand why people use them, but whyyyyyyy would you when you probably already have the base ingredients in your pantry anyway?
Already, I was becoming a food snob and I wasn’t even double digits in age yet. According to the publishing date on this cookbook, I was likely only 7 when I made my first batch of Sloppy Joes.
Over the years, I’ve changed the recipe in my head and I don’t even know if my go-to version is anything like the original version I learned back in the late 1980s, but now I’m interested in finding my copy (it’s still at my Mom’s house, I’m sure) for comparison’s sake. For now, here’s the version I make today:
We started calling them Sloppy Mo’s because they’re mo’ betta the kind you make with the canned sauce or seasoning packet.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
1 6oz can tomato paste
vinegar (apple cider or white is great)
Get your trusty sloppy joe pan out. For me, this is a big tall sided pan or a large pot. Get a bead of oil in there and heat it up. Add your onion and saute until transparent. Add your ground beef and brown it. Keep “chopping” up the beef with a spatula so the size of the cooked ground beef is consistent and small. You can drain off the fat if you like, but I typically only do this if I’m using ground beef that is 20% or higher in fat.
Add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly with the meat. Add ketchup and mustard to make a sauce. Of course, like many of my recipes, I don’t measure how much. I would estimate probably about a 1/4 cup of ketchup to start and about half that for mustard. Adjust as necessary to taste and how “saucy” you like it. Add a splash of vinegar and mix thoroughly again. Mix in about a tablespoon of sugar (again, to taste… you can omit it if you like).
Serve on hamburger buns. I like to butter the buns and then toast them in a pan before adding the Sloppy Mo mix, but that’s up to you. This stuff is also AMAZING over fries or tater tots with a little cheese.