I love the combination of sweet and spicy. These sloppy joes, hot and sour soup, a spicy bbq sauce, it’s all fantastic to me. You can make these on the milder side by taking out the cayenne, but I’d suggest giving it a try with half the amount first. The heat really adds a great extra dimension to the flavor, and the strong tomato and brown sugar flavors really balance the spiciness so that it’s not nearly as apparent as you’d think. Go on, give it a try!
You start by browning the ground meat. I used turkey here, but you can just as easily use beef like in the original recipe or even ground chicken. Heat oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or pot (you can do this is a large skillet, but it gets kind of messy. Something with taller sides is nice.) and cook the meat until browned and cooked through.
Remove meat from the pan, and either pour off most of the fat left in the pan or add some oil back into the pan if necessary (depending on how lean your meat was), and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the ginger and garlic and cook 1 more minute.
Add the meat back in as well as the rest of the ingredients (except the rolls, of course). Stir well, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve with hamburger buns, rolls, or even as tacos. It’s fantastic pretty much any way you dish it up. My favorite? Top it with sharp cheddar cheese.
Sweet and Spicy Sloppy Joes
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 1 carrot grated
- 2 ″ piece ginger minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 lbs lean ground turkey or beef
- 1½ cups ketchup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons cayenne start with less and add more to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder or ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- soft rolls for serving
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Cook the ground turkey until browned and cooked through, then remove and set aside.
If necessary, add remaining tablespoon oil to the pot. Saute onion, celery, and carrot until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in ginger and garlic and saute 1 minute more.
Stir in ketchup, brown sugar, tomato paste, cider vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn, for 30 minutes.
Serve on rolls or hamburger buns. Top with cheese and broil until melted, if desired.