How to Make a Great Sloppy Joe Sandwich
I purchased some grass fed, organic ground beef from Whole Foods and was going to grill some hamburgers for dinner when my wife said she was in the mood for comfort food and would I make Sloppy Joe’s instead. I haven’t made Sloppy Joe’s in years so I did a little research online, found I had the ingredients I needed in the pantry and voila!
Sloppy Joe or Maid Rite Sandwich?
While I was doing my research for Sloppy Joe ingredients I came across what just may be the predecessor of the Sloppy Joe called a loose meat sandwich, a favorite in the Midwest. The loose meat sandwich became popular in the 19th century as a way to stretch a buck by adding fillers like bread crumbs, rice, cheese and ketchup to ground beef, then spooning this mixture on a hamburger bun for a tasty, fulfilling meal.
In 1926, butcher Fred Angell combined “just the right combination of a special cut and grind of meat and a selected blend of spices. When a deliveryman tasted Fred’s new creation, he said, “This sandwich is made right” and that was the beginning of the Maid-Rite family of franchises throughout Iowa serving loose meat sandwiches.
The big difference between a Sloppy Joe and a Maid Rite sandwich is a Sloppy Joe is made with some sort of sauce where a Maid Rite uses just dry crumpled ground beef.
Sloppy Joe Origin
Again my research on Sloppy Joe’s shows there is some controversy over where the original Sloppy Joe comes from. One version describes a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa where a cook back in 1930 added some tomato sauce to his loose meat sandwich to come up with a Sloppy Joe. Sounds good, but a little too convenient for my thinking.
Another version of the story says it started in a Key West, Florida restaurant called Sloppy Joe’s Bar. I like where this is going.
And then the New York Daily News wrote a story back in 2013 about the original Sloppy Joe’s saloon in Havana, Cuba, a frequent hangout of Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra and Nate King Cole, where some say the Sloppy Joe sandwich originated. The saloon was recently reopened after being closed by Fidel Castro in 1965.
My personal memories of Sloppy Joe’s take me back to the 1970’s when my mom would brown ground beef and add a can of Hunt’s Mandwich Sloppy Joe sauce and serve it to us on a bun. We thought it was the greatest meal ever.
Thousands Of Sloppy Joe Sandwich Recipes
There are literally thousands of recipes on the Internet for making Sloppy Joe’s. The two most important ingredients are the ground beef and the ketchup. What vegetables, spices or other ingredients you add are up to you so be as creative as you like. I have noticed most of the recipes include a dash of Worcestershire sauce but not all of them.
I’m using onion, bell pepper and garlic but you can substitute or add carrots, mushrooms, celery or whatever other vegetables you may have in your refrigerator. Just be sure to keep the ratio of veggies to ground beef close to what I have here.
Below is my basic recipe for Sloppy Joe sandwiches that we like in our house but please play around with the ingredients to come up with one that you and your family will enjoy.