This bad boy is not your momma’s Sloppy Joe’s… no ketchup, yellow mustard or chili powder. This version is super umami, with wonderful complex flavors and by far the best one we’ve ever tasted.
We usually swap out the beef for ground turkey thighs or pork for a lighter more focused flavor. And rather than using only marinara sauce, we have also made a lighter but incredibly intense sauce from burst cherry tomatoes, simmered and crushed. We also simmer garden fresh sweet red bell peppers and Vidalia sweet onions so not much sugar needed. And we use Cento double concentrated tomato paste from Italy, which is just amazing, so deeply umami and thick, yet somehow garden fresh tasting. These different tomato flavors add a savory complexity to these Sloppy Joe’s, far more than the ones we had as kids. We also used malt vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Spanish paprika, fennel seeds and a final mind blowing addition of Garum, a fermented anchovy sauce from Sicily that is so packed with umami that one teaspoon makes all the difference. We then serve these Joe’s on hot toasted buttered buns. Umami bombi!
1 1/2 pound ground beef, pork or turkey or chicken (we usually use coarse ground turkey thighs)
12 to 16 ounces cherry tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, chopped to 1/4 inch
1 large sweet onion, chopped to 1/4 inch
5 tablespoons olive oil (2 for pan frying the meat, 2 for pan frying the veggies, and 1 for the cherry tomatoes)
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
12 ounces thick marinara sauce (if purchased we use Mezzetta Marinara)
4 ounces Italian tomato paste in a tube (we use Cento, Mutti or Amore)
1 teaspoon Garum
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
Spread out the meat and add 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper, covering the meat uniformly. Roll up and set aside.
In a ten inch saute or fry pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and slowly simmer the cherry tomatoes until they begin to collapse… about 12 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the Garum and using a fork crush the tomatoes until it forms a light loose paste. Set aside and allow to cool a bit.
In a 12 inch saute pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and on medium high, fry the onion and red bell pepper until limp and slightly seared, about 5 minutes. Remove to a medium bowl, cover and set aside.
In the same 12 inch saute pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic. Slowly simmer the garlic until if just foams and becomes aromatic. Now add the meat and fry until fully cooked, chopping as it fries. The finished meat should be in small chunks.
Add to the meats the tube of tomato paste, the simmered cherry tomatoes and the 12 ounces of marinara. Simmer together for a couple minutes and then add the Worcestershire sauce, the malt vinegar, fennel seed powder, sugar, paprika and the pan fried red bell pepper and the onion.
Simmer on low for about five minutes until the flavors are married, and then serve on hot buttered buns. Enjoy this super savory blast from the past!