The Sloppy Giuseppe
As with many kids of the '70s, one of my dinner favorites was Sloppy Joes. I liked them better than burgers. I remember the first time Dad made them, flavored with those little packets of dried spices, onions and such. He was excited to have us try this new thing. We were suspicious of the new food, and I remember all four of us eating them with trepidation.
But we liked them and had them often. Which is why being served Sloppy Joes now as an adult is a nostalgia-inducing happy treat. There were smiles all around when my friend Ginna made them (without the spice packet) for the gang a while back, as we gathered for a weekly "Top Chef" viewing. But her sandwiches had an Italian twist and she dubbed them Sloppy Giuseppes.
This play on Ginna's idea is simpler. Not much to point them in an Italian direction, except the oregano, until we get to the toppings: provolone cheese and a generous helping of jarred giardiniera. Green peppers, standard in regular Sloppy Joes, would do well here. And you could definitely up the spices, if you prefer stronger flavors.
Served with a lusty red wine or a beer, they're definitely for grown-ups.
Makes 6 servings. Prep: 10 minutes; cook: 15 minutes.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (14.5 ounces) Italian pear tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 hamburger or other rolls, toasted
6 slices provolone cheese
HEAT the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften. Stir in the garlic; cook, 1 minute.
ADD the ground beef, stirring it into the onions and breaking it up; cook until browned. Stir in the wine, tomatoes and paste, oregano, red pepper flakes and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Taste for seasonings.
SERVE on rolls, topped with a slice of provolone and a generous helping of giardiniera.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 514 calories, 20 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 116 milligrams cholesterol, 61 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 689 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.