I love Sloppy Joes because there are so many different ways you can make them. You can be boring, or you can be adventurous.
After a few hours playing around with this in the test kitchen, I would define this version as being mildly adventurous.
It has most of the usual suspects for a good Sloppy Joe, plus a few additional items to kick it up a bit. Oh, and don’t forget to toast the bread… that will give the sandwich a bit of crunch, and good mouth feel.
Add the oil to a large sauté pan, or skillet, over medium, and heat until shimmering, but not smoking.
Chef’s Tip: I choose grapeseed oil, because it doesn’t impart any additional “oil” taste, and it has a higher smoke point: 420f (216c). Compare that to olive oil with a smoke point of 320f (160c). That gives you the ability to sauté the veggies without smoking up the house… I like that.
Add the onion, and pepper, and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Chef’s Note: As the veggies are sautéing, season with a bit of salt, to taste.
Chef’s Tip: Adding the salt at this stage of the game will help the veggies release their moisture.
Add the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and the hot sauce to the sauté pan.
Stir without stopping until incorporated into the veggies, about 1 minute.
Add the ground beef to the sauté pan.
Stir, breaking apart with a wooden spoon until the beef loses all of its pink, about 6 minutes.
Incorporate the cumin, chili powder, paprika, mustard, and cayenne to the sauté pan. Add a bit more salt, if you feel it needs it (I usually don't think that it does).
Stir until just combined, about 1 quick minute.
Finally, add the BBQ sauce, tomato sauce vinegar, water, and Worcestershire.
Chef’s Note: If you want to kick up a bit more, add a bit of Sriracha sauce. BANG.
Bring the mixture up to a light boil, and then bring down to a very light simmer.
Cover and allow it to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Chef’s Note: Every 5 minutes, uncover and stir.
Chef’s Tip: If after 30 minutes the mixture does not appear to be thickening, remove the lid and allow it to simmer uncovered for the remaining 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the bread.
Place on a plate. If you like you could run a couple of lines of mustard down the bread, or serve it on the side.
Chef’s Note: I like to serve mine with coleslaw; however, the sandwich stands on its own. Full stop.