Sloppy Joe

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I grew up enjoying barbecues. During summer, we’d have hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and other good things cooked on a charcoal grill, in the backyard in Massapequa or on the balcony in Brooklyn. As time passed, San Geraldo and I graduated to three-burner gas grills and we often hosted “barbecues.”

Last night, SG made us Sloppy Joes. I love this and didn’t remember having it as a child. But I then realised my mother started making it when Dale and I were both in our teens because she thought it was something The Kid Brother would like. In San Geraldo’s family, Sloppy Joes were called “barbecue beef.” Or just barbecue. It has never made any sense to me. But then, they grew up in South Dakota, which has made less and less sense to me in recent years.

SG and I discussed this last night while he was cooking, after he called the Sloppy Joes, “barbecue.” He tried to convince me the name made sense. “It’s not ‘barbecued,’” he tried to explain, “It’s ‘barbecue’. Barbecued would be on a grill.” OK, no. He then pulled out his mother, Alice’s, recipe card for “Sloppy Joes” to show me it was always called “barbecue,” as if that would somehow convince me it made sense. And, no, their “barbecue” recipes never included barbecue sauce. There are a variety of ways in which Americans write the word. In my family, it was an actual word and spelled like one, b-a-r-b-e-c-u-e. Around the country, however, it’s written as: Bar-B-Q, BBQ, B-B-Q, Bar-B-Que, Bar-B-Cue, Barbeque, BarBQ, and more.

You can see the card below. Barb-Q-Beef. Even SG was surprised by his mother’s spelling (and hyphens). He then tried to prove that when read correctly, it would sound just like “barbecue.” He finally gave up. We didn’t even broach the subject of Texas, Kansas City or even Memphis Barbecue/BBQ.

So, what do you call Sloppy Joe? In SG’s family, they called ground beef “hamburger.” My family called it ground beef. Yours?


Crecí disfrutando de las barbacoas. Durante el verano, teníamos perros calientes, hamburguesas, bistecs y otras cosas buenas cocinadas en una parrilla de carbón, en el patio trasero de Massapequa o en el balcón de Brooklyn. Con el paso del tiempo, San Geraldo y yo pasamos a las parrillas de gas de tres quemadores y, a menudo, organizábamos “barbacoas”.

Anoche, SG nos hizo Sloppy Joes. Me encanta esto y no recordaba haberlo tenido cuando era niño. Pero luego me di cuenta de que mi madre comenzó a hacerlo cuando Dale y yo éramos adolescentes porque pensó que era algo que le gustaría a El Hermanito. En la familia de San Geraldo, los Sloppy Joes se llamaban “barbecue beef” [carne de res a la barbacoa]. O simplemente barbecue. Nunca ha tenido ningún sentido para mí. Pero luego, crecieron en Dakota del Sur, lo que tiene cada vez menos sentido para mí en los últimos años.

SG y yo discutimos esto anoche mientras él cocinaba, después de que llamó a los Sloppy Joes, “barbecue”. Trató de convencerme de que el nombre tenía sentido. Luego sacó la tarjeta de recetas de su madre, Alice, para “Sloppy Joes” para mostrarme que siempre se llamaba “barbecue”, como si eso de alguna manera me convenciera de que tenía sentido. Y no, sus recetas de Sloppy Joe”barbecue” nunca incluyeron salsa barbacoa. Hay una variedad de formas en que los estadounidenses escriben la palabra. En mi familia, era una palabra real y se deletreaba como tal, b-a-r-b-e-c-u-e. Sin embargo, en todo el país se escribe como: Bar-B-Q, BBQ, B-B-Q, Bar-B-Que, Bar-B-Cue, Barbeque, BarBQ y más.

Puedes ver la tarjeta a continuación. Barb-Q-Beef. Incluso SG se sorprendió por la ortografía (y los guiones) de su madre. Luego trató de demostrar que cuando se lee correctamente, sonaría como “barbacoa”. Finalmente se dio por vencido. Ni siquiera abordamos el tema de Texas, Kansas City o incluso Memphis Barbecue/BBQ.

Entonces, ¿cómo llamas a Sloppy Joe? En la familia de SG, llamaban “hamburguesa” a la “ground beef” [carne picada]. Mi familia lo llamó “ground beef”. ¿Tuya?

Barb-Q-Beef? SG adds celery. Alice would be surprised.
Barb-Q-Beef? SG agrega apio. Alicia se sorprendería.
• Dorar carne de res y cebolla. Agregar el resto todo mezclado. Cocine a fuego lento una hora y media.
• While we ate our bbq, sloppy joes, bar… dinner. I don’t know what they heard.
• Mientras comíamos nuestra bbq, sloppy joes, bar… cena. No sé lo que escucharon.
• Moose, you watch north and I’ll watch south. Moose? Are you awake? Moose!!! San Geraldo said, side-by-side, they look like us.
Moose, tú vigila el norte y yo vigilaré el sur. ¿Moose? ¿Estás despierto? ¡¡¡Moose!!! San Geraldo dijo, lado a lado, se parecen a nosotros.
• More rain overnight and the first half of the day. The wind is howling now.
Más lluvia durante la noche y la primera mitad del día. El viento está aullando ahora.

Click the thumbnails to make them grander.
Haz clic en las miniaturas para hacerlas más grandes.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

36 thoughts on “Sloppy Joe”

  1. My input, from someone who grew up in NJ:
    1– I never heard of a sandwich called, “Barbecue”, until we started driving to Missouri, and stopped in Indiana, and the family fed us “Barbecue”. It was pulled pork with BBQ sauce, on buns. They use this term in Missouri, too. In my family (MA and NJ roots), grilling was referred to as barbecue-ing, even if it didn’t include any sauce. So, when we had grilled hamburgers on the menu, we were barbecuing that night.

    2– Sloppy Joes have hamburger (we don’t say “ground beef” at home, just at the store). And a can of Sloppy Joe sauce… which is kind of a more tomato-heavy version of BBQ sauce, so the ingredients on Alice’s card are kind of right for making BBQ sauce… but wrong meat for sloppy joes.

    3– I’m sure you’d only need to simmer this for about 15 minutes, not an hour and a half!

    1. Judy C:
      I had a feeling you would have had these experiencers. As for number 3: SG said just that. “An hour and half? Alice wouldn’t approve of my 15 minutes.”

  2. I haven’t been into sloppy joes as much, as I am traditional pulled pork barbecue, but I will tell you I love grilling. And I have grilled just about everything. When I was younger we had a gas grill, but once my father passed on we got rid of it I went back to Charcoal Grill with Mesquite chips. Nothing like to taste of food done over charcoal I swear. Matter of fact I’m firing up the grill tomorrow night to do pork chops. Mind you it’s only supposed to be a high of 49 °. And I love that picture of the two boys together how cute!

    1. Mistress Borghese:
      We don’t barbecue here because we worry the smoke might bother one of the neighbors. We miss it. In Connecticut, we’d grill all year. We’d clear a path in the snow on the deck. So good. It’s a frigid 57F here right now!

  3. My Mom never made Sloppy Joes. I never heard of them till my friend’s Mom made them.
    We called ground beef hamburger back then. Now I call it ground beef…….I’ve been ‘gentrified’!! lol

    1. Jim:
      That’s a big difference between SG and me. I was gentrified at birth. He was countrified.

  4. We said sloppy joes, but when Mother made them, I didn’t eat them because of her love of onions, which give me an upset stomach. Mother also didn’t believe that onions were a problem for me. If she liked something, then everyone was supposed to like it. When I made sloppy joes, I used a canned sloppy joe sauce that I added to browned ground beef.


    1. janiejunebug:
      SG uses ground turkey (I should have mentioned that). Your mother was such a doter.

  5. In our house, ground beef was only ever called hamburger. Mom never made Sloppy Joes as they were too messy to eat, so she favoured traditional hamburger patties with fried onions. My Mom was a great cook, but she only ever had two choices on her menus: take it or leave it, LOL!

    Moose and Dudo look so adorable when they’re not at each other’s throats!

    1. Tundra Bunny:
      We ate our Sloppy Joes with a knife and fork. Whenever Moose and Dudo start getting too friendly, one of us will say, “Be nice.” It worked this time.

  6. we called ground beef “hamburger”. We often had sloppy joes. My dad was the head chef and my mom the sous chef for 90% of our meals, consequently I never learned to cook until I left home. The boys do look like you and SG.

  7. I call sloppy joes “Sloppy Joes” and they are made with hamburger, onions, tomato paste, Clubhouse Sloppy Joe Spice Mix and water. After sauteeing the onions, browning the meat and adding the rest, it is brought to a boil and then simmered for 10-15 minutes max. An hour and a half?!?!? You can tell that recipe is from our parents’ generation when everything was overcooked to death.

    1. Debra:
      Clubhouse Sloppy Joe Spice Mix. I’ve never heard of it. SG’s mother had recipes with those labeled products. I wouldn’t know what to do if I couldn’t find the brand. Yeah, SG cracked up when he saw an hour-and-a-half. He, too, uses the 15-minute system… and it’s delicious.

  8. In the South barbeque is anything cooked with barbeque sauce; anything cooked on a gril is called grilling.

    We called them Sloppy Joes, and we called ground beef hamburger meat.

  9. This is all completely foreign to me. Here in the UK, minced beef is just minced beef. When mushed together and fried, it’s a (ham)burger or rissole. That same (or similar) mush, when baked, is meatloaf. In gravy with mashed potato on top and baked, it’s Cottage Pie (which, when made with minced lamb, is Shepherd’s Pie). In gravy and in pastry and baked, it’s a minced beef pie.

    I have never known anyone eat minced beef and sauce as a sandwich! Jx

    1. Jon:
      Your rules are similar to what I grew up with excerpt for some terminology (like minced beef). Sloppy Joes are delicious. But minced beef and sauce as a sandwich doesn’t have the same ring. There was even tinned brand called Manwich. And they said, “A sandwich is sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal.”

      1. Margaret Butterworth:
        You’d have to taste. Ours is nothing at all like Bolognese sauce, although that’s probably the right description for most of it. Although I like it, it’s too sloppy for me, so I eat it with a knife and fork.

  10. We grew up eating “sloppy Joes” made from “hamburger meat.” Like Judy above, the term “ground beef” was used only in the store. And since I married a southerner, we eat “barbecue.” Where he’s from, eastern NC, barbecue is pork, usually whole hog, pulled, with a sauce made from vinegar and spices. No ketchup. And I love grilling which, as many have mentioned, is when you cook something on a grill, like a hamburger or a steak, or sausage, or corn on the cob, or fish. The list goes on.

  11. Having lived in barbecue states, bbq is cooked low and slow with a nice smoke, high-heat and fast is grilling – what most yankees call barbeque. Discussions on what is a proper BBQ sauce, could start a civil war. Yes on sloppy joes, similar to your recipe but using tomato paste and brown sugar in place of the catsup. We called it hamburger.

    1. David:
      I enjoy being reminded of the differences in our language. “What do Americans call this” is a common question. And my answer always begins, “Well…”

  12. Those are great photos of the cats! Like you, I’d call the sandwiches Sloppy Joes, made with ground beef. It’s interesting that SG’s mom put sugar in them, as well as ketchup. Seems like that would make them awfully sweet. (I’m generally skeptical of sugar in a savory dish.) And funny how the pepper was only “if desired.” God forbid you should have a green vegetable!

    1. Steve:
      Oh, yes, sweet was big in those plains states recipes. Many of their traditional side dishes looked like desserts to my family (and to me). And lol about the green pepper. That was probably considered exotic.

  13. Ground beef is an ingredient. It can be turned into a hamburger or a sloppy joe (or for that matter chili, or meatballs, or the meat surrounding the spaghetti if you prefer that to meatballs) but in and of itself is none of those things in its original form.

    I had to look up barbecue because I wasn’t sure myself. Barbecue is both a cooking method and a party or picnic where such a cooking method is used. Barbecue sauce, as the name implies, is a sauce that you CAN use as a seasoning but don’t HAVE to use as a seasoning on barbecued meat if you don’t want to. It’s barbecued anyway because that’s the particular cooking method you’re using. Nor does barbecue sauce automatically transform a foodstuff into a barbecued item. After all, you can get barbecue sauce at Arby’s, but the sandwich is still not barbecued because it’s cooked on a stove.

    Don’t get me started on baking soda.

  14. Tomato – tomahto, does it taste good? I only had Sloppy Joes in elementary school lunches. Enchiladas too, for that matter. I love them both because of that, something different from home. Anything served with barbecue sauce was called barbecue, whether it was grilled (seldomly) or not. Never ground beef, always hamburger. We knew what kind to get because of what was being cooked. Hamburger for the spaghetti, tacos, chili etc. It didn’t take rocket science.
    In my adult life, Balder Half likes a good rub (so does his meat) and I prefer a good sauce. Sweet and hot, not vinegary. Now, I’m hungry.

    1. Deedles:
      Sweet and hot for me, too… although maybe not too hot. I never had a school lunch. Just think what I was missing.

  15. Sloppy Joe! Everyone loves the stuff and everyone has their preferred recipe.
    Mine is the best by the way, do not dare to question this.

    1. Urspo:
      I have been told for years that yours is the best way. I have never questioned it. I just humor San Geraldo.

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