Before tonight, not only have I never made a Sloppy Joe, but I'd never even eaten one! For a couple of years, B has been raving about these Sloppy Joes he had at a friend's house once and begging me to make them. Finally, I contacted my friend, CC, and asked for her recipe. Turns out, it is from one of Jessica Seinfeld's cookbooks, Deceptively Delicious. I have both of her cookbooks in my collection but never gave the Sloppy Joes a second glance because, well, I've never had them and had no desire to. My only exposure to the meal was the Manwich commercials from my childhood. I did not eat ground beef as a child, not even hamburgers (I think it was a texture issue), and my mom never made them. I've never been served them at any function or dinner at a friend's house. But I am so glad I made them tonight! Something that is healthier for us and all three of us liked - woohoo!
You may or may not know this, but Jessica Seinfeld's recipe include "sneaking" pureed vegetables into each dish. She, like most parents, found it difficult to get her children to eat a variety of vegetables and discovered she could slip some into meals - breakfast, lunch dinner, snacks, even desserts! - without the kids noticing a difference in taste. I actually modified a Chicken Lasagna recipe after being inspired by Jessica Seinfeld and it's been a hit with my family as well as with guests. I substitute half or all of the cream of chicken soup the original recipe calls for with purred vegetables. I've made my lasagna with pureed yellow squash, carrots and pumpkin, but the most popular is with butternut squash. Since Jessica Seinfeld's Sloppy Joes recipe called for pureed butternut squash and sweet potatoes, I decided I could make my Chicken Lasagna, too! That recipe will be coming later in the week. But onto the Sloppy Joes...
I sautéd diced red onion, celery, carrot and garlic until all soft and translucent. I never follow a recipe's timing on this part. They all say to cook anywhere from 1 - 5 minutes. However, it takes at least a good 10 - 15 minutes to get the onion soft, translucent and, most importantly to my taste buds, caramelized.
Next, I added ground turkey. Here's another thing about recipes that drives me crazy! Most tell you to break up raw, ground meats with a wooden spoon. Yuk! When you cook a steak, any harmful bacteria is only on the surface of the meat (unless extenuating circumstances occur and the health of the animal the meat came from or somewhere at a production facility has been compromised). That is why we can eat steaks at whatever temperature we like, even pork chops and fish! As long as you cook the outside above 140 degrees F, you have destroyed the bacteria. But when you grind up meat, all that bacteria and bad stuff on the surface of the meat gets mixed completely throughout. Wooden spoons are porous and can absorb that bacteria! Do you soak your wooden spoons in bleach after each use? I bet not.
So, use a non porous utensil. I use my potato masher. Nothing else I've used breaks up my meat finer. I brought my silicone spatula, seen in the picture below, back into the pan after the meat was cooked through.
Next, I added equal parts of pureed sweet potato and butternut squash as well as tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, chili powder, salt and pepper. The hubs' tummy has little to no tolerance for tomato products, so he was pleasantly surprised that this recipe only had a scoonch tomato paste in it, instead of a can or two of tomato sauce! Stirred all that in, lowered the temp to a simmer, covered and let sit for 10 minutes.
Ta-Da! I know, I know...my food photography continues to disappoint. I'm sorry! I wish I could have all y'all over for dinner each night so you can see, smell and taste with your own senses.
Mrs. Seinfeld says to serve her Sloppy Joes in whole wheat buns, but we prefer the potato variety. Hey, we're eating ground turkey, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, so I think it all balances out. ;o)