Sloppy Joes or Barbecues?

Monday, April 25, 2011

 I had plans dinner tonight... knocking off one more recipe on the list, Penne Rustica.  But, on the way home I decided I didn't want to go to the grocery store.  Therefore, I checked out what was on the white board for dinner options.

My sister (technically my sister-in-law but I call her my sister-we were meant to be) Emily, showed me a few years ago her "dinner list."  The dinner list consists of options that she has the ingredients for dinner any given night.  It is a genius idea that I quickly adopted.  So, I got home and took a look at the white board.  Sloppy Joes stuck out for some reason.  

I have been eating Sloppy Joes for as long as I can remember.  Although Sloppy Joes are kind of Sloppy Joes, and I wasn't really sure if I should post such a boring entry, there is some history behind the evolution of my Sloppy Joe recipe.  

I remember in 7th grade going to my friend Jamie's house.  Her mom, Lois, was making Sloppy Joes for dinner with carrot sticks and wavy Lays chips, classic combination.  Lois made her Joes different than my mom, she added chicken gumbo soup.  A-mazing.  Just like the cooking tunes for tonight, totally inspired by my 7th grade buddy, Jamie. We used to j-a-m to this.....

Ever since then, I have used chicken gumbo soup for Sloppy Joes.  My mom has now adopted this to her recipe as well.  Chicken gumbo soup is hard to come by in the grocery store and a lot of times, they sell out.  Maybe others have caught on to Lois' secret.  I always buy at least two cans when I see it at the grocery store.  Never know when you need a good Joe.  Here's how I make my Sloppy Joes: 

Saute one medium union until almost translucent
Add a teaspoon (or about two cloves) of garlic.
Add one pound of ground beef or ground turkey to the pan. Brown.
Next add the chicken gumbo soup and about a cup and a half of ketchup.
Add a teaspoon of mustard, a couple shots (depending on how much you like salt.  I like salt) of worchestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne (or more depending on how much heat you would like) and two teaspoons of white sugar.  I know, most recipes call for brown sugar. I distinctively recall my grandma putting white sugar into her Sloppy Joes, so that's what I do.  Grandmas know best.

Let simmer as long as you would like or eat as soon as things are combined.  The longer the Joes sit, the better they taste.  These are great in a crock pot as well just make sure there is enough moisture...add more ketchup if things seem to get too dry.

My other grandma would put water in empty-as-she-could-get-em ketchup bottles, shake them up and pop them in the fridge to be used for pork spare ribs, my favorite recipe of hers.  Grandma knows best, so I put a little water in the bottle, shook it around and popped it back into the fridge.  To this day, an almost empty ketchup bottle reminds me of my grandma, and that I need to pick up some spare ribs.  I know my mom still does this as well.
Moving on to the finished product, tonight we had the Joes on Thin Buns as we call them.  I think they are really called Sandwich Thins at the grocery store.  LOVE them, way better for you and you can actually taste what's in them.  Mandatory, at least in our house, to serve with pickles and American Cheese.

We had a debate when we were eating about the Sloppy Joes vs. Barbecues.    I say Sloppy Joes, Mr. Schwartz says if it has chicken gumbo soup, they are barbecues.  My girlfriend Erin is from Wisconsin and she is the only one I know to call them barbecues as well.  Mr. Schwartz is surely not from Wisconsin.    What do you call what is pictured above?  Leave a comment to settle the debate.

Here's the condensed version of the recipe:

1 Medium onion
1 Lb Ground beef or turkey
1 Teaspoon (about) of garlic
1 Can chicken gumbo soup
1 1/2 Cup of Ketchup
1 Teaspoon of yellow mustard
2 Teaspoons of white sugar
2-4 Shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 Teaspoon (or more) of cayenne pepper

Saute chopped onion in a small amount of canola/vegetable oil. Add garlic and meat when onions are almost translucent.

When meat is brown, add remaining ingredients.

Simmer as long as you would like.  The longer the Joes simmer, the better they taste.

Serve with pickles and American cheese on your favorite bun.  


  1. I'm not sure where Mr. Schwartz gets calling them BBQ's, growing up in our household they were always called Sloppy Joes. I've had this debate with my past roommates and fiance over the years, they are and always will be, Sloppy Joes!

    'The sister of Mr. Schwartz',
    Ms. Schwartz

  2. I'm from MN originally and moved to ND. I have never heard them called BBQ's untill I came out here. They just call them BBQ's...not even BBQ sandwhich or anything, just BBQ. STUPID. They are called sloppy joe's and nothing else. BBQ IS A METHOD OF COOKING! I invloves slow cooking meat over coals in contrast to grilling which is fast high heat over coals. Browning hamburger in a pan and adding sauce(and its not even BBQ sauce!) and seasoning is neither of those!

  3. Ha, I'm about to make some sloppy joes right now, I've been lurking to see how much sugar I needed to put in em (I added too much in the last time I made some and ruined them. The dog ate good that night though.)

    I've never heard of them being called BBQ's.

  4. It's a sloppy joe. My in-laws are from Wisconsin and I learned the hard way that they will call these things "barbecue" and you'll think maybe we're having chicken or ribs or brats but nope, it's a sloppy joe. No one is even going out to fire up the grill. :(

  5. I grew up with a version of this and we always called them barbecues. I am from Minnesota and so is my husband and he says sloppy joes.

  6. I grew up calling them barbecues! My husband thinks I'm nuts. I grew up in southern MN and he grew up in northern MN.

  7. Anything of this ilk is a sloppy joe, and those are in my opinion an awful culinary tragedy, a total waste of useable meat. Anything with that much, or any ketchup is hot vomit on a plate, on a bun, whatever... It's just a waste of meat. It reeks, it can stink a home up for days. And to EVERYONE ESPECIALLY IN WISCONSIN, read this CAREFULLY... BARBECUE IS A COOKING METHOD THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE HAMBURGER NOR KETCHUP, IN ANY MANNER EVER. It does also not involve a crock pot, and REQUIRES slow cooking meats over a fire, not floating hamburger or pork you're turning into a trashy smelly mixture from the puts of hell in ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard or anything else in a crock pot you vile jack wagons!

  8. Lived in Wisconsin all my life. They are barbecues!!!

  9. Yep, I, too, am a Wisconsin lifer! They are barbecues! I am wise enough to call them sloppy joes depending on the company I'm keeping if I don't want to get into an argument! LOL!

  10. Years ago, I dated a girl in Milwaukee (I'm a NYer and was stationed at Great Lakes, IL) and she took me to her Mom's as she was making barbecue. I thought this was weird for February. Got there, didn't see the grill on.

    "No, she's making barbecue"
    "You mean Sloppy Joes?"
    "No, barbeque."

    Fast-forward to a different girl (now wife) from Milwaukee who was making "pookadoos" (her younger brother couldn't pronounce "barbecue"). Now they're just "pookadoos".


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