Any foreigner in New Jersey will have to get familiar with the words “sloppy Joe” in school menus. If you wonder what it is, a sloppy Joe is just meat sauce served on a bread roll.
The name is spot on. It is a messy thing to eat, especially on sandwich form as there is no way to prevent the sauce from spilling from the bread. Keeping clean is difficult business. Knife and fork would make eating a sloppy Joe easier.
This is the same meat sauce you could have with pasta or potatoes baked in their jacket, why is then so popular in its sloppy Joe form? No mystery there, a sloppy Joe is good to eat and convenient to prepare. Meat sauce is easy, can be made in advance to re-heat later, slice the bread and the dish is done. Skip the baking –potatoes - or boiling-pasta and that is the only risk about a sloppy Joe, it is easy to become a lazy Joe and not to cook much else. A kid old enough to use the microwave can make a sloppy Joe meal if there is meat sauce in the fridge and bread in the pantry.
We brought back some favorite sloppy Joe recipes from our time there. I got them from my Italian neighbor and the influence is clear.
More sloppy Joe variations
The truth is that there are possibly as many sloppy Joe recipes as cooks in the East coast. We have mention about other flavors -mustard or garlic granules, for instance- and about adding other vegetables. The only extra thing we have left to mention is the meat. Try a ground ground lamb or pok -pork is usually cheaper than beef - sloppy Joe.
Why not a a sausage meat sloppy Joe? Use ground turkey for a turkey sloppy Joe. Ground chicken and cream of celery soup will give you a white sloppy Joe.
Vegetarians don't need to deprive of this pleasure, just by substituting the ground meat with cooked beans, finely chopped tempeh or tofu, and adding a good variety of vegetables and herbs to the sauce, the result is a vegetarian sloppy Joe - don't forget to use vegetable broth instead of beef stock.