Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Smokey Joes

I decided one Sunday to throw together a pan of sloppy joe to eat during football. I didn't want to make the same old same old, so I poked around in the fridge for ideas. There, I found a jar of roasted red peppers, a container of chipotles en adobo, and a jar of freshly-made pumpkin butter.

Yes, pumpkin butter. The stuff has a lot of the same spices as ketchup--cinnamon, ginger, cloves--and it also contains an actual vegetable and no high fructose corn syrup. It also lacked a certain tangy-ness, which I remedied with a bit of cider vinegar. Mr Minx was skeptical when I told him of my brilliant idea to use pumpkin butter in our dinner, but after I mixed a bit of vinegar into it and gave him a taste, he was a believer.

Not only did I want to use the pumpkin butter, but I also wanted the sloppy joe to have a pronounced smokiness. I stopped short of cooking the meat in my stovetop smoker, but added all of the smoky-flavored ingredients I had on hand, apart from liquid smoke (which might have taken it over the edge), plus the usual Worcestershire and mustard flavors. The result was rich and sweet, but not overly so, with a smoky edge.

While the sloppy joe was delicious the day it was made, it was even better a few days later.

Smokey Joes

1/2 cup pumpkin butter
1-2 chipotles en adobo, finely minced (depending on your tolerance for heat)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground pasilla negro (optional)
3/4 cup chicken stock, plus additional
1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (optional)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
oil
salt
1 lb ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced

Make the sauce: Combine the pumpkin butter, chipotle, vinegar, tomato paste, Dijon, and Worcestershire sauce in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the paprika and ground pasilla and slowly stir in the chicken stock. Stir in the smoked salt, if you have it, and taste the sauce for seasoning. If it needs sweetening to your taste, add some or all of the agave syrup. Bring sauce to a simmer, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the sauce is simmering, start cooking the onion in a separate pan over medium heat with a bit of oil and a pinch of salt. When onion is translucent, add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until no longer pink. Add the garlic and the roasted pepper.

Pour in the prepared sauce. Stir well to combine. Add additional chicken stock if the mixture seems dry. Bring mixture to a simmer, then turn heat to low. Cook for 30-45 minutes, until beef is tender, adding more stock if necessary and skimming off any fat that rises to the top. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Serve on your favorite rolls, buns, or toast.

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Posted on Minxeats.com.
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