It’s been a few years now since it occurred to me that fulfilling my craving for a good, old-fashioned Sloppy Joes sandwich doesn’t necessarily involve opening a jar of premade sauce. I mean, what’s a Sloppy Joe but a sandwich with cooked ground beef (or other meat), plus some seasoned tomato sauce?
But it did get me thinking a little about the origin of this childhood favorite (I’m kinda weird like this). A little research has informed me that it likely originated in the early 20th century – maybe the 1920s or 1930s (but the jarred stuff has been around since the 1960s). It’s possibly a version of the midwestern loose meat sandwich or otherwise originated at Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West (aside: I’ve been there many times, but never even made that connection!), or at the other Sloppy Joe’s bar in Havana, Cuba. Who knew.
Anyway, this sandwich with its sketchy origins has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. And kids and adults alike tend to love it. I’ve made my homemade version with a tangy tomato sauce that has a hint of sweetness, plus a few spices. It’s super-simple to make and definitely feeds the comfort food cravings.
And don’t feel you have to use ground beef here. I’ve used ground turkey successfully, and you can make a darn good vegetarian version by substituting a combination of cooked lentils and chopped mushrooms for the ground beef. You can even lighten up the calories a bit by using a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.
In any case, I hope you try my version of Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes, and I hope you love it. Let me know in the comments.
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