4 August 2010

Sloppy Joes

Isn't sloppy joes the greatest name for a dish?

Whenever I think of sloppy joes, I think of my great-grandma. This is probably due to the fact that the only time we ever has sloppy joes was at great-grandma's house. (By the way, the more times you say it, the better it gets!)

What are sloppy joes? It is a dish of mince meat and a tomato/ketchup sauce served on buns or rolls. Simple and cheap to make, it can feed a lot of people and it's made with ingredients that most people will have in the house. In the US, there is even a brand of sauce called 'Manwich' to mix with the mince meat to make sloppy joes so all you have to do is have the one can in the cupboard, in keeping with the convenience-is-of-the-utmost-importance-in-American-kitchens theme.

My great-grandma (and great-grandpa) grew up during the Depression and particularly great-grandma had to stop school and start working at the age of 13 to help support her other twelve siblings. Those who had their formative years during the Depression carried many habits and mentalities of the age with them throughout their lives, which came through in great-grandma the most. She would save every rubber band, re-use glass jars from food, make her own clothes and make food container covers from thick plastic bags (ingenious!). After a childhood and many years of making everything from scratch and eeking the most out of the food they had, I can imagine that the conveniences of the 1970's onwards, like sloppy joes mix in a can, was a godsend.

Even with the convenience of sauce-in-a-can, it is not difficult to make. The sauce ingredients are straight from the cupboard:

Brown a pound of ground beef with some onions.

Add a can of chopped tomatoes and ketchup.

Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and brown sugar (not pictured above for some reason).

Let all of that simmer together for a while so the sauce is tangy, sweet and tomato-y. It should still have lots of juice so that when you put it into a bun, it's sloppy.

I like to toast the bun first so the juices don't make the bun soggy, then pile the sloppy joes mixture on top. Mine wasn't quite as sloppy as it could have been, but I think I underestimated how much meat I had.

And because I felt like there should be something other than meat and bread in this meal, there are six singular green things on the plate too.

I don't have sloppy joes ever really but sometimes you have a craving that you must give in to. Plus, my fiance had never heard of this dish and I really couldn't let him go without sampling something that has such strong ties with my memories of visiting great-grandparents (this, and jello with cocktail fruit- but that's for another time). I made it from scratch as 'Manwich' mix is not available here. Still, this one is for great-grandma.

1 comment:

  1. You made me cry. What a lovely tribute to Grandma Potter and very empathetic about her life. So is it a London thing to interchange "has and have"? :)