SLOPPY JOE (the version NOT found in schools), by Evan J.

When I was a Middle School student a “few” years ago (ahem),

I remember waiting on line in the school cafeteria, holding my

bulky plastic tray (to support the paper tray with multiple and odd

square-like compartments).  That might sound mathematically

fancy, but the food placed in those squares was perfunctory, predictable,

and “average” quality.  The oil slick residue was another beautiful

bonus to complement the excuse for lunch.  The icing on the cake

had to be “the spork.”  “Use the spork, Luke…” Things might not have

changed much since then… It is safe to suggest, however, that

school food quality has always been questionable.  It’s NOT all bad,

but most people would tend to agree that cafeteria food contains a

negative connotation, especially in Public Schools, nationally and

globally.  Upon first glance at this post’s title, some people

might have had a flashback and made a run for it.  Hopefully,

you’re still reading because you know something great is certainly

going to be revealed:  A simple and quick way to upgrade the

“old school” Sloppy Joe to a “new school” version.

Here are the ingredients:

**1 pound of Ground Turkey Meat (not ground beef)

**1-2 Tablespoons of E.V.O.O.

**1 small diced onion

**1/2 cup of Roasted Peppers (see below)

**Roasted Garlic (see below and add what you feel)

**1-2 cans of Mushrooms or cut fresh ones

**1 can of Manwich, or generic Sloppy Joe sauce

**1 fresh Kaiser Roll, Baguette, or Italian Bread

Roasted Peppers:

Either use a few big ones (red, yellow, orange)

or roast a mini mixture (Costco has a great deal).

If you use the big Peppers,you’ll have to char or burn

the outside skin under the broiler, and then put into a

covered bowl for several minutes.  Later on, peel off the

plastic-like skin and discard it; cut the Peppers into small

strips.  The mini peppers can be roasted on a sheet pan in

the oven directly under the broiler.  Toss in some E.V.O.O.

to coat, Salt, and Fresh Ground Pepper.  Roast until very well done.

You can peel off the skin, but it’s not necessary (unless you’re an

uptight purist).

Roasted Garlic:

Take 4 entire Garlic bulbs and cut off the tops.  Douse the Garlic with

E.V.O.O. and sprinkle with Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper.  Put in

a Convection Oven on 325.  The key to successful Roasted Garlic is

the “low and slow” method.  Keep the temperature low, cook it slowly,

and brush the oil over the Garlic every 10-15 minutes.  If the oil gets

absorbed by the Garlic, add more oil.  Cook for around 45+ minutes or until

the Garlic begins to carmelize, turn brown, and blister slowly.  Don’t burn it

or you’ll really hate your life.  Roasted Garlic takes some patience, but it’s

totally worth it.  You can save the oil and put into a jar (it’s now infused Olive Oil),

and use the leftover Roasted Garlic for Pizza, Hummus Dip, Garlic Bread, etc.

Let’s Cook:

Add the E.V.O.O. to the pan and saute the onion.  Add

the Ground Turkey, but season with a little Salt and

Fresh Ground Pepper.  Cook until the Turkey is no longer

pink and raw.  Add the Roasted Peppers, Garlic, and

Mushrooms until everything is incorporated.  Add the entire

can of sauce (use a plastic spatula).  Mix well and let simmer

for 5-12 minutes.  Serve with any of the aforementioned

toasted bread.  After your first bite, you’ll have some closure

regarding “old school” Sloppy Joe.  The new version is healthier,

tastes amazing, easy to make, provides a few days of leftovers,

and an overdue, well-deserved upgrade.

“May the spork be with you…”

Evan J. “wanna be” gourmet