When I decided to write a post on Sloppy Joes I had no idea they carried such a reputation. Out of the blue, I did a quick search on Wikipedia just to see if I could find out where they originated from. I didn’t find a definitive answer on where, or how they got their start, but there are two good possibilities.
One claim comes from a cook named, you guessed it – Joe. Joe worked for a cafe’ in Sioux City, Iowa. The only problem with this claim is that his sandwich supposedly didn’t contain tomato sauce. How can someone claim dibs on creating a Sloppy Joe sandwich that doesn’t contain either ketchup, tomato sauce, or Manwich? It isn’t really a Sloppy Joe without one of those three ingredients – is it?
The other claim was made by Sloppy Joe’s Bar located in Key West, Florida. Sloppy Joe’s opened their doors in 1933. Their menu boasts “The Original Sloppy Joe Sandwich – IT MADE US & KEY WEST FAMOUS!” I’d say it would be hard to refute a claim like that.
The Sloppy Joe is also known to have quite a few aliases too. Here are just a few examples. In Minnesota they are known as Sloppy Janes. Maybe it was a Jane, not a Joe that invented this combination? Virginia, West Virgina and Maryland blessed them with the name Steamers. Northern Pennsylvania likes to refer to them as Wimpies, while the St. Louis area calls them Yip, Yips – huh?? And, in Rhode Island, they are better known as dynamites. The list doesn’t end there either. I remember when I was in school, the lunch calendar referred to the Sloppy Joe as an Untidy Joseph. I always thought that was a lame way for the school to promote a more politically correct name for the sandwich. Untidy is just a little nicer way of saying sloppy.
Just like names, there are variations of the Sloppy Joe too. My recipe is not out of a cookbook. I picked it up watching, and helping my mom when I was younger. It’s not a perfect science either. The best way to tell how good your Sloppy Joe is going to be? Taste, and adjust, until your taste buds are happy.
The ingredients I use when making my Sloppy Joes are as follows: 1 pound of lean, ground beef, 1/4 of a pound of mild, ground Italian sausage (optional), one half of a green, red, or yellow pepper (diced), one large onion (chopped), 1/2 stalk of celery (diced), 1 clove of garlic (crushed), 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar (depends on how sweet you like your sauce), salt and pepper, a teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and lot’s of ketchup.
Place the ground beef, sausage, pepper, onion, celery, and garlic into a large skillet. Liberally salt and pepper the contents of the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned, and veggies are softened. Remove from heat and drain the grease from the skillet. Then return the skillet back to the stove and add enough ketchup to cover the meat thoroughly. At this point also add the brown sugar, mustard, and Italian seasoning to the mix.
Cook on low heat until the ingredients are blended together and the sauce starts to bubble. Simmer for an additional 10 – 15 minutes. The sauce should thicken slightly during this process, and the meat will absorb the flavors. Serve on fresh rolls.
So, wherever you live, and whatever you call them, here’s to a simple and tasty supper! What variations do you make to your Joes when you make them?