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Homemade Sloppy Joes with red peppers, ground beef and onions cooked in a rich tomato sauce served on a toasty bun. Terrific with a big pile of spicy crispy onions too!
This is one of those forever recipes you’re going to love, and it’s not just for kids!
Sloppy Joes are an American creation dating back to the 1940’s. I remember enjoying them as a child when my mom used seasoning packages from McCormick. Just add water and ground beef and dinner was ready. But Sloppy Joes are not just a kid favorite sandwich! Even though we’re empty-nesters, we still love a good Sloppy Joe from time to time, especially while camping in the fall. You can easily double the recipe to feed a crowd or freeze the filling to have on hand when needed. Freezing is perfect for camping too, just put the frozen container of Sloppy Joe meat in the cooler and it should be just about thawed in time to warm up for dinner. One pot for quick and easy cleanup too – woohoo!
Homemade Sloppy Joes are an easy, flavorful and hearty sandwich the whole family will crave, with or without the spicy, crispy onions!
Let’s talk about spicy crispy onions for a minute. Made with thin sliced sweet onions, buttermilk and a well spiced flour mixture, these simple onions are great served in many ways. Eat them as a snack, as a terrific topping for Sloppy Joes and hamburgers, or in place of croutons on a salad. These homemade crispy onions are excellent as a topping for your holiday green bean casserole; so delicious. Frying is my least favorite way to cook and I avoid it whenever possible, but in this case, it’s so worth the effort! Make a big batch and rewarm leftovers in a warm 300F oven for a crispy tasty treat.
Sloppy Joes make great camping food!
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Red peppers, ground beef and onions cooked in a rich tomato sauce served on a toasty bun. Terrific served with a big pile of spicy crispy onions too!
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90-95%)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (seeds and ribs removed)
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning (low-sodium from McCormick)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 5 tablespoons tomato paste (3 ounces)
- 4-6 toasted buns or rolls for serving
- 1 large sweet onion like Vidalia, halved and thin sliced
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
Heat a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat.
Add the ground beef. Cook stirring frequently to break up the meat. Once browned add the onion and red bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Add the brown sugar, seasoning, cayenne, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and tomato paste.
Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep warm while preparing the crispy onions if using.
Place the onions in a medium mixing bowl and pour the buttermilk over the sliced onions. In a shallow bowl combine the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet or large platter with paper towels. Set all aside.
Add vegetable oil to a large deep saucepan set over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it reaches 375F. Grab a handful of the onions and drain slightly before scattering in the bowl of flour. Toss to coat with the flour, shake off excess and carefully place in the hot oil.
Cook, stirring gently to break up the onions until browned and crispy, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the paper towel lined platter. Continue cooking until all onions are fried.
To serve, spoon Sloppy Joe mixture over toasted buns and top with a handful of crispy onions. Serve immediately.
The prepared Sloppy Joe mixture can be frozen for up to 30-days. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat on medium until bubbly.
Cooked crispy onions can be reheated on a baking sheet at 300F for about 15 minutes.
Leftover tomato paste can be flash frozen in 1 tablespoon mounds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until needed.
Sloppy Joe mixture adapted from Rachel Ray
Crispy Onions inspired by Half Baked Harvest