Friday, March 1, 2013

Sloppy Joes for Grownups

Last year's post:Lasagna Techniques

Until I found this recipe a few years ago, I hadn't had Sloppy Joes probably since grade school although I understand they're one of the most popular sandwiches around.  I've never been a fan of ground beef with a "can of something" stirred in, but this recipe is entirely different and so good. It has southwestern influences from green chiles, ancho and chipotle powders plus (a trick borrowed from pulled pork BBQ sandwiches) coleslaw right in the sandwich.  Having grown up in the Midwest, when I heard about BBQ sandwiches with coleslaw served on top rather than on the side I thought that was the strangest thing I had ever heard.  A couple of BBQ-loving southern co-workers persuaded me to try it at lunch one day on a road trip, and I've been hooked ever since.  Like many great dishes, it's the contrast of textures, temperatures and flavors that makes it work.  In this case, the cool and crunchy coleslaw contrasts with the rich, warm meat mixture, oozy cheese and toasty bun perfectly. And if that's not enough, it fits in a healthy diet because it's made with lean turkey.

I thought it was particularly interesting that the coleslaw doesn't have any mayonnaise in the dressing - just honey, cilantro, seasoning and lime juice.  It gives the coleslaw a clean taste that's very appealing.  (If you're a cilantro-hater, just substitute parsley instead.) 

If you're not familiar with ancho and chipotle, they're types of chile powders. (Whole chipotle peppers - actually smoke-dried jalapenos - can also be found canned in adobo sauce in the grocery aisle, or dried in the produce section.) Ancho has a rich warm flavor without being hot, and chipotle is very smoky and slightly hot.  If you can't find them in your grocery store you could order them at (my favorite spice resource) or you could substitute regular chile powder, but it won't be quite the same.  As written, the recipe is what I would consider to be slightly spicy but it's tamed by the coleslaw.  You can adjust the chile amounts (particularly the chipotle) up or down to your taste.

You want to use sturdy, over-sized buns for this sandwich such as kaiser rolls or ciabatta buns (not soft squishy hamburger buns) for two reasons.  First, a soft hamburger bun can quickly become soggy.  And second, using an over-sized bun allows you to hollow out the top and bottom to securely enclose the filling without it spilling all over.  The Neat Freak in me likes that part. 

While I was reading the recipe and came to ketchup as an ingredient I had to smile because it brings back a great childhood memory of my brother.  When he was around 2 years old he put ketchup on just about everything he ate.  I was watching him eat one time and he stuck a pickle spear in his ketchup and took a bite.  I was appalled on several levels and told him with all the superiority a 7 year old can muster that "we (meaning any sane child) do not eat pickles, much less pickles with ketchup".  Without any change in expression, he calmly stuck his pickle in the ketchup again and took another bite, never taking his eyes off me.  He was a difficult child.  At that point his only redeeming feature in my eyes was that he was the same approximate size as one of my dolls.  My sister and I would dress him up in doll clothes when our mom wasn't looking and then fall on the floor laughing. Good thing he doesn't read my blog or I'd be in big trouble for telling that story.  I know for a fact that he doesn't read my blog because I don't think he's ever cooked anything that didn't come out of a microwave in his entire life.  If he had been born 100 years earlier he probably would have starved to death.

Anyway, try the Sloppy Joes........if for no other reason than that they're a great excuse to eat potato chips.  :-)

click here for a printable recipe

Sloppy Joes for Grown Ups
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup ketchup
1 (4.5 oz) can diced green chiles
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tsp Dijon or yellow mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp ancho chile powder
¼ tsp chipotle chile powder
salt to taste
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 kaiser rolls or ciabatta buns

For the honey lime coleslaw:
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
4 cups coleslaw mix
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

To make the coleslaw, combine all ingredients and set aside.

Preheat broiler to high; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the turkey and onion and sauté for about five minutes, until the turkey is cooked through.  Drain.  Stir in ketchup, green chiles, brown sugar, mustard and spices; simmer five minutes.

Meanwhile, split the rolls and hollow out the tops and bottoms by removing some of the bread crumbs.  

Place the tops and bottoms on the baking sheet and divide the turkey mixture between the bottoms.  Top the turkey mixture with the cheese slices and place the baking sheet under the broiler.  Broil, watching carefully, until the cheese is melted and the bun tops are toasted.  To serve, spoon coleslaw onto each sandwich, replace the bun tops and press gently to close.

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