My only memories of Sloppy Joes come from the lunchroom at Mountain View Elementary School, and they weren’t particularly happy memories. Given my lunchroom trauma in the mid-1970s I’ve always wanted to reinvent them. I read a whole bunch of Sloppy Joe recipes before I made this batch. I know, I really should think about getting a life. Most chefs add a lot of sugar to Sloppy Joes. I read recipes with 2 tablespoons, or even 1/3 cup brown sugar. I don’t get it. If I want sweet I’ll eat a brownie (my friend Shirin’s brownies are the absolute best). I kept a tablespoon of brown sugar for a hint, just a hint, of sweetness. Turkey Sloppy Joes are much lighter than beef. The downside of ground turkey – if you use all white meat – is that it has no fat and can be a bit dry if you aren’t careful. This dish, truth be told, isn’t much like the Sloppy Joes I ate in elementary school. It’s just a sloppy turkey dish with lots of fresh flavor.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons best quality salted butter
- 2 cups onion, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 lbs ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 32-oz can tomato puree (I use canned Italian tomatoes which I threw in the blender because I was out of puree – either will do)
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco (or more if you like HEAT)
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Brown the onion, red bell pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes until the onion and red pepper are soft, about 10-12 minutes. Add the ground turkey and cook over medium-high heat until the turkey is completely cooked through (no pink bits should remain). You don’t want to overcook the turkey or it will be tough and dry. You’ll need to break up the turkey with the back of your spoon as it cooks. Add the salt and pepper.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes. Serve over toasted buns, or if you are addicted to Trader Joe’s (I am) buy a container of their buttermilk biscuits, toss those puppies in the oven, and serve your Sloppy Joes over Trader Joe’s biscuits.