Sunday, January 13, 2008

Winter comforts, part 1

It's an old cliché at this point — that there's something about winter that just screams for comfort food. Personally, I think there's never a wrong time for comforting, home-cooked meals. Regardless, I present to you one of my favorite comfort foods: the Sloppy Joe. Generally considered kids' fare, I've actually eaten more Sloppy Joes as an adult than a did as a child. We never had them much at home when I was growing up, though I do remember making "Sloppy Toms" from a recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens children's cookbook (the difference was swapping ground turkey for the beef). Paired with baked beans and a mix of corn and peas, this satisfies my nostalgia for an idyllic childhood supper, one which I imagine much of middle America eats to this day.

Making Sloppy Joes at my house can be a bit of a production, since I eat meat and the Anthropologist does not. I start with two pans, one for the ground beef and the other for soy-based imitation ground. Then I add the ingredients for the sauce on top of each filling and let both simmer while the buns heat up in the toaster oven. The Sloppy Joe mixture ends up moist and saucy, which is exactly how it should be — it's not called "sloppy" for nothing!

Sloppy Joes
(adapted from Bob Sloan's Dad's Own Cookbook)

1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c tomato sauce
2 tsp each: red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar

Brown the beef, then add the other ingredients to the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes and pour the mixture into toasted whole wheat buns.

Serves 2.

(Out of ketchup? Barbecue sauce makes a delicious substitution, which was the Anthropologist's suggestion when I was faced with that dilemma.)

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