Last fall I saw a recipe in Gourmet magazine (October 2007) that was an upscale version of the old classic Sloppy Joes. I finally got around to looking at it and decided it might be a good choice for a dinner party we had with friends last weekend.

As usual I couldn’t avoid tinkering with it a bit. The original recipe used ground meat but I thought a truly upscale version would use chunks of steak and perhaps a red wine marinade.  The dish seemed to go over pretty well with our friends and the only change I might make next time would be to really take my time dicing the steak into smaller cubes – pieces about the size of pencil erasers seems just about right!

Sloppy Belly’s

This recipe reminds me of my Mom’s homecooking – I can almost smell the pot of sloppy joes simmering all afternoon just waiting for us kids to come in from the field to eat!  My Mom’s recipe, as funny as it sounds, came from a lunch-lady at my elementary school – it was bright and sassy – just like Mom so many years ago!

Serves 6-8

3# lean steak – use whatever is on sale and try to get the thinnest steaks possible – 1/4″ is perfect!
1 bottle red wine – for marinades I really like Charles Shaw from Trader Joe’s (Also known as “2-buck-Chuck!)
Coarse Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
1 tbls cooking oil
1 tbls unsalted butter
1 large onion, minced
3 14oz. cans of crushed tomatoes – I found a national brand that has fire-roasted, garlic tomatoes – nice flavor to add!
2 tbls chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3 tbls worcestershire sauce
3 tbls brown sugar
2 tbls white vinegar
2 tbls yellow mustard
Kaiser rolls

To begin, the night before dice the meat into small cubes, place in a glass bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour in the red wine. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate as long as you like, but no more than 24hrs.

At time of cooking, drain the beef in a colander and discard the red wine marinade. Place 1 tbls cooking oil into a large, hot skillet and add the beef. Cook on medium-high until browned, set aside. In a large sauce pot add 1 tbls unsalted butter and the minced onion. Cook over medium heat long enough to soften up the onions – they should be just translucent.  Add the beef, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard. Mix through thoroughly and reduce heat to simmer covered as long as you like, stirring occasionally to make sure the flavor profile really comes together.

Toasting the Kaiser rolls really makes me happy – but you can serve these in just about any sort of roll from a hoagie roll to plain ole bread and be just as happy!