Throwdown's Sloppy Joes

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 25 min
  • Prep: 50 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 35 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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BBQ Sauce (or you can use 1 jar Mesa Grill BBQ Sauce):

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium Spanish onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle puree (depending on how spicy you want it)

1/4 teaspoon chile de arbol or cayenne

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons molasses

Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

Garlic Toast:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 (1/2-inch) slices sourdough bread

Neat Joes:

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 pounds ground chuck (80/20)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup small dice red onion

1/2 cup small dice celery

1/2 cup small dice roasted poblano chile

1/2 cup small dice roasted red bell pepper

1/2 cup small dice roasted yellow bell pepper

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

1 1/4 cups BBQ Sauce, recipe above

1/4 cup water

1/4 ketchup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, plus more for garnish


  1. For the BBQ Sauce: 
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the onions and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the ketchup and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. 
  3. *Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool at room temperature. Sauce will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator stored in a tightly sealed container. 
  4. For the Garlic Toast: 
  5. Combine the butter and garlic in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat and let sit 5 minutes. 
  6. Preheat the broiler. 
  7. Put the bread on a baking sheet and broil until both sides until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the oven and brush them with the garlic butter. Transfer to a serving platter and set aside until ready to serve. 
  8. For the Neat Joes: 
  9. Heat the oil over high heat in a large high-sided saute pan until the oil begins to smoke. 
  10. Add the beef, breaking it up into small pieces using a metal spatula or wooden spoon, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the poblano, bell peppers and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the ancho powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add the BBQ sauce, 1/4 cup of water and the ketchup, bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the mustard, Worcestershire, honey, brown sugar and molasses. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cover, return the meat to the pan and continue cooking until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Add the vinegar, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in the 1/2 cup of parsley or cilantro. 
  11. Top slices of the garlic bread with some of the sloppy joe mixture, sprinkle with cilantro or parsley. 
  12. *When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

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