Imagine my shock when I went to a restaurant and ordered a barbecue beef sandwich and it had sliced roast beef. I was horrified.
After I got over my shock, I grew to love barbecue beef sandwiches from that very same restaurant that disappointed me the first time, but I never outgrew my fondness for sloppy joes the way my mother made them.
I tweak the recipe now and then, but there's one secret ingredient that I never mess with. To me, sloppy joes just aren't right without that one ingredient: Open Pit Barbecue Sauce.
And it has to be the "Original" version.
Since we moved to Colorado, sightings of Open Pit are pretty rare. I guess it's a midwest thing. But I've got a few bottles squirreled away for the times when I need that taste of home. We've all got our vices, right?
Mom's Sloppy Joes
1 green pepper, fire roasted, peeled, seeded, diced
1 pound ground beef
approximately equal amounts (or to taste) of:
Open Pit barbecue sauce
And then a little bit of:
Oil, for cooking the onions
Sweat the onions in a little bit of oil until they're soft. Add the green pepper and ground beef, stirring to break up the beef.
Okay, here's the deal. I know the whole theory of not crowding the pan and browning the ground beef...and it's a nice theory, but it's not how mom made it. She tossed it together and stirred, and if any browning happened, it was probably an accident.
When the beef is just about cooked through, add ketchup and Open Pit. I don't measure, I just squirt until it looks sloppy enough. You need enough sauce so that it's a little loose and soupy.
Simmer the mixture for at least 15 minutes; longer is better. You want the meat to absorb the sauce and take on that dark red color, and you want the meat to soften.
Or, okay, maybe that's not what you want, but that's how mom made it. If you like your meat with a little chew, take it off the heat whenever you think it's ready. Otherwise, cook until the meat is soft. Mom's sloppy joe meat was soft like a stew, not browned like taco meat.
You might need to add more ketchup and/or Open Pit as the meat cooks. It should be a loose mixture, but not a soup.
If you can't find Open Pit, I don't know what you can substitute. All I can suggest is that you use a barbecue sauce that you like.
I've tried other barbecue sauces, and I haven't found any that are similar in taste to Open Pit. It's tangy with a little kick; it's not sweet, and there's no smoke. It sounds simple, but I've tried making my own version and I just can't get it right. I've resorted to stocking up when I see it anywhere, usually about once every year or so. I only use it for two recipes - neither of them ribs - so it lasts quite a while.
Oh, and yes those are homemade buns. Recipes will be coming along soon.
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