I love that it has become trendy for even the most upscale restaurants to offer mac and cheese on the menu. And I love that we have more ‘gourmet’ burger joints in our town than we do gas stations. And I extra love that the gastro-pub we dropped into yesterday for lunch had ‘Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole’ as a special. I am thrilled that all of the delicious, nostalgic, homey foods from my childhood are being reinvented, and enjoyed all over again.
Chefs seem to have tackled and upgraded everything from tater tots to oatmeal cookies. But you know what has been totally overlooked in this comfort food overhaul? Sloppy Joes.
Is there any dish that screams ‘Kid Food’ more than the humble Sloppy Joe? I’ll admit that not all sloppy joe memories are happy ones. The soggy school-lunch sloppy joes were fodder for elementary school nightmares. But sloppy joes CAN be delicious. I recall a fantastic summer camp sloppy joe served on a perfectly crusty pretzel bun. And another, spicier version that a neighbor’s mom made with leftover chili. The thing about sloppy joes is that there are no rules. Anything goes. Which is why they are ripe for reinvention.
A little bit messy, a little bit sticky, these Maple Dijon Sloppy Joes are all the sloppy joe was meant to be. Sweet, tangy, hearty and full of flavor, this is kid food that I love even more as a grown up. I’m a big fan of maple syrup in savory dishes. With the ground beef here, it provides just enough sweetness and plenty of rich flavor. Be sure to use good quality maple syrup (the real stuff!) and good Dijon mustard too.
This recipe makes plenty for four big sandwiches, but if you have leftovers, they actually freeze well. Or, you could get creative and reheat leftovers with a bit of hoisin sauce, a dash of soy sauce and some chopped water chestnuts and serve in lettuce wraps for a whole new Asian-inspired meal.
Maple Dijon Sloppy Joes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cop finely chopped carrot
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound 85% lean ground beef
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup maple syrup
salt, to taste
4 whole wheat rolls or buns, toasted
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
Thinly sliced crisp apple
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and pepper and sauté until the veggies are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ground beef, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no pink remains (if the meat starts to stick, add a few tablespoons of water). Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire, paprika, mustard, and maple syrup. Stir well and simmer about 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. To serve, spoon the sloppy joe mixture into the buns and top each with a slice of cheese and a slice of apple. Pass around plenty of napkins!
Check out http://www.purecanadamaple.com for more information on pure maple syrup and Think Outside The Griddle recipes.