Just about every American has had sloppy Joes -- and loves sloppy Joes, even if they do have a bit of a lowbrow reputation among certain crowds. They gained popularity as comfort food in the 1950s and made their way even into school lunchrooms.
Legend has it that a cook named Joe at Floyd Angell's Cafe in Sioux City, Iowa got creative and added tomato sauce to what were then called "loose meat" sandwiches, which were ground beef and onions mixed and browned, served on a bun and sometimes topped with mustard and ketchup.
So this iconic American sandwich was born -- unceremoniously -- and it was a fixture of mid-century America just as much as its iconic furniture. The ingredients vary depending on personal taste, but they nearly always include ground beef and onions (legacy ingredients), plus tomato sauce or ketchup, mustard and seasonings.
This recipe was taken from "The Complete Make-A-Mix Cookbook" by Karine Eliason.
- 1 tablespoon onion (instant minced)
- 1 teaspoon dried green pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic (instant minced)
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- Combine the onion, green pepper flakes, salt, cornstarch, garlic, dry mustard, celery seed and chili powder in a small bowl and mix until evenly distributed.
- Spoon the mixture onto a 6-inch square of aluminum foil and fold to make it airtight.
- Label the package with the date and its contents.
- Store in a cool, dry place and use within 6 months; this recipe can be multiplied easily.
Make Sloppy Joes
There are many ways to make sloppy Joes.
Here's one version that includes many ingredients. If you have seasoning mix you can skip most of the seasonings listed. Serve on warmed hamburger buns; buy the larger size since these sandwiches are not named "sloppy" for nothing.
It's handy to have homemade spice mix for sloppy Joes on hand for a super quick dinner on a weeknight. Add a green salad or steamed vegetables, and everyone will be satisfied with very little effort on the cook's part.
Additions include vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and green bell peppers. Some people prefer to use ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef, and those who are vegetarians who don't want to miss out on this old standby use vegetable protein made to mimic the texture of ground beef. Use your imagination and consider your family's taste preferences. It's really all up to you.