Italian sloppy joes

Sloppy Joes! I believe most people think of middle school cafeteria food when they hear this, but I am totally changing the look of the classic “Sloppy Joe” and making them extra fancy…and Italian.

The way my mom always made Sloppy Joes when I was growing up was with ketchup and mustard, some brown sugar, and they were delicious. I wanted to create something that has much more depth of flavor and, not to brag, but I think I hit the nail on the head. I add tomato paste, parmesan cheese, wine, fennel, and fresh herbs then load up a ciabatta bun and top everything with Fontina and fresh basil to make this recipe so much more than a “Sloppy Joe.”

Tips for Italian Sloppy Joes

*Use a dry red wine, and don’t skip this step. The alcohol cooks off and you are left with really great flavor.

*I like to simmer the sauce with a piece of Parmesan cheese rind mixed in it. This is the secret that Italians do to make their sauces taste amazing.

*Make sure to cook the tomato paste enough so that it starts to “caramelize” in the pan. This adds really great depth of flavor and removes the raw tomato taste.

*This sauce is really great after a couple hours of cooking, but even better the next day. So, if you are doing some meal planning, this is a great “make ahead” item.

Italian sloppy joes

Italian Sloppy Joes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

2 large carrots, finely chopped

salt and pepper

2 pounds organic, grass-fed beef

1- 6oz can tomato paste

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup whole milk

1 cup dry red wine, I like using Chianti

1-28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand

*the rind of parmesan cheese* (this is optional but adds really great flavor)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2- 1 cup freshly chopped parsley

Ciabatta buns

Fontina cheese

Fresh basil leaves

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil together

Stir in the onion, fennel, and carrot; season with salt and pepper

Let the vegetable cook for a few minutes being careful to not let them brown (about 5-10 minutes)

Add in the meat and cook, breaking the meat up while it cooks so that it is in small pieces

Once the meat has cooked through, add in the minced garlic and oregano; stir well

Add in the tomato paste and mix it in well; add the tomato paste to cook for a few minutes until it starts to caramelize

*Cooking the tomato paste like this removed the “raw” tomato taste and adds really great depth of flavor*

Stir in the milk and lower the temperature to a simmer

Cook for about 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened

Stir in the wine, tomato and another sprinkle of salt

Bring back up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, add in the cheese rind and let the sauce cook for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally

When you are ready to serve, stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and the 1/2 cup of parsley (adding as much as you like)

Serve on fresh ciabatta buns with fontina cheese and a piece of basil

*This makes a lot, so if you want to freeze it, allow it to cool completely and pour serving size amounts into freezer friendly bags and place in the fridge. Once it is very cold, place it in the freezer.

Italian sloppy joes

Italian sloppy joes

Italian sloppy joes

Italian sloppy joes