Before 2012, the only Sloppy Joe I ever knew came out of a can. It had been years since our last meeting and honestly, I hadn’t given Joe much thought since then. Joe was just a piece of the past…a cheap means to a quick end when dinner had to get on the table. It was survival cooking which I hope I have left far, far behind me. But there’s no reason for me to snub Joe now because our past relationship was not healthy.
In most relationships, you can’t change your partner. All you can change is your own expectations and reactions. My relationship with Joe is one of the exceptions. Joe yielded completely to my wishes. Without argument Joe became exactly what I asked. No longer defined by a list of chemical and preservatives with dubious nutritional value, Joe went natural.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t quick. It took time. And patience. But now Joe is hearty and filling on my terms. With some planning by me to identify a block of time for Joe to do his thing in the crock pot and a little work to clear freezer space for him to chill out in afterwards, I now have a healthy relationship with Joe. Without much more effort required to brown my ground beef and open a can, I still have budget friendly means to an easy meal.
Crock Pot Sloppy Joe
Adapted from Foodie With Family
BAH Note: If you don’t have at least a 12 inch frying pan to work with I recommend browning the ground beef in batches. I was going to say scale the recipe down by half but these are too good not to make the whole batch and stash some in the freezer. Really. That good. I promise.
- 3 pounds ground beef (I used 2 lbs 90/10 and 1 lb 80/20)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large red pepper, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 18 ounces tomato paste (that’s 3 cans)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Cook the ground beef in a large frying pan, working in batches if you need to, over medium heat until it is lightly browned (no longer pink). Transfer the ground beef to the insert of your crock pot, straining off and saving the juices and fat from the pan.
Combine the onion, red pepper, carrots, and beef juices in a large microwave safe bowl. Cook on high power for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.
While the vegetables soften in the microwave, combine the tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Stir until they are thoroughly combined.
Add the softened vegetables and tomato paste mixture to the crock pot, stir to completely combine all the ingredients, cover, and cook on low for 6 hours.