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One of my favorite childhood meals has to be sloppy joes. A flavorful rich meaty sauce over grilled bread topped with cheese. My families sloppy joes were made with a homemade meat sauce which is the key. You cannot get the flavor of a true rich meat sauce out of a can and as with most canned goods the sodium levels are through the roof.
A good meat sauce takes time but you can make it in a large batch and it freezes beautifully. For my sloppy joes I use a lean or extra lean ground beef. You can mix in ground pork, veal or chicken as well but for simplicity I stick with beef.
I use grass fed beef from a local supplier (Getaway Farms). You cannot get this kind of flavor in grain fed beef and nutritionally it is far superior. I also know if it is fresh or frozen and can handle it appropriately. It comes from one or at most two cows which makes it more controlled from a food safety standpoint. My butcher and farmer can tell me the exact cut or cuts that went into it so I know what I am eating. With this beef I never get that liver/organ meat taste that I experience from some factory food ground beef.
Unlike a burger which benefits from a higher fat content to add flavor and moisture in a meat sauce you would just strain off the fat so you might as well go lean. Also extra lean ground beef benefits from the long slow simmer we will do a the end of this process to meld flavors. We will also use celery, carrots and onions in this sauce and caramelization to build a deep rich flavor. This sauce is a favorite of mine and it makes the perfect sloppy joe.
To bring this dish up a notch I replace the burger bun with some panini pressed french bread and add in some of the garlic scape pesto from my last post. I also replace the traditional cheese slice with some fresh cheese curd. It is still sloppy and super flavourful.
1.5 tbsp grape seed oil
2 pounds of fresh or thawed extra lean ground beef (allow to sit at room temp for 1 hour before using)
1 large or 2 medium onions (small dice)
3 large or 6 small carrots (small dice)
3 stalks of celery (small dice)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup bourbon or rye
1.5 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 cups red wine tomato sauce (prior blog post)
salt and pepper
In a large pot or dutch oven heat up 1.5 tbsp of grape seed oil over medium high to high heat, I tend to do mine on MAX. I use grape seed oil here because of it’s high smoke point. My dad used to tease my grandmother about there being other settings on the stove then Max, now I understand why she cooked with high heat… flavor. We have warmed the beef a bit so we don’t cool the oil off, we want to caramelize the beef to build flavor adding cold beef to hot oil will give you boiled beef. Break the beef up and add it into the oil, sprinkle in a tsp of salt to help draw out moisture. Stir the beef with a wooden spoon often, don’t leave it sitting on high heat while you do something else, it will burn. Keep stirring and breaking up the beef until it is well browned. Brown is flavor. We will end up with brown bits on the bottom of the pot, we will get that later too.
When the beef is browned, remove the beef to a plate and set aside. If there is not enough oil to cook the veggies add a tsp more and reduce the heat to medium high. We have find diced the veggies because we want good caramelization and when we simmer it the veggies will almost dissolve into the sauce adding amazing flavor. Add the onion, carrots and celery into the hot oil, add in another 1/2 tsp of salt which will flavor and draw water out of the veggies allowing for better caramelization. Stir the veggies until they start to brown, then add in the garlic. Continue to cook until everything is browned. Be careful not to burn any components here.
When everything is well browned add the tomato paste, and paprika and cook until you see the oils separate, tomato paste is always better when you fry it off a bit. Now we go after the brown bits on the pan which are full of flavor. Deglaze the pan with the bourbon and worcestershire sauce. Then add in the beef, stir well to combine and add in the milk and nutmeg and finally the tomato sauce. Now reduce the heat to low and maintain a low simmer. Cover and let simmer for a good 2 to 3 hours. Stir every half hour or so adding in a little water if it starts to get too thick. This will make the meat super tender and the flavors will meld beautifully. When it has finished simmering add salt and pepper to taste.
This sauce is amazing in lasagna, on homemade pasta or in this case on a sloppy joe. Make lots and freeze it for a quick family meal during the week.
Now for the Sloppy Joe
Slice the french bread horizontally across the middle and then cut into as many servings as you desire. Lightly butter the bread on both sides and put it into a hot panini press and cook until crispy, turning 90 degrees half way through to create cross hatching. Then spread on a layer of garlic scape pesto. The cross hatching we created will grab a little extra pesto which is a nice treat.
Heat up your broiler to 500 degrees, top the bread with the meat sauce and a generous amount of fresh cheese curds. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and starts to brown, top with a little more pesto and serve.
Thanks to my local producers for providing me with ingredients to make this pop:
Beef: Getaway Farms via Meat Mongers at the Halifax Market
Celery and Onion:Taproot Farm
Garlic and Carrots: Evans Farm Market
Milk and Cheese Curd: Fox Hill Cheese House
I love being introduced to new product, it is one of the main reasons I enjoy my CSA share. Garlic scape is the green ropey sprout that grows out of the garlic bulb. During the summer these are trimmed off so the bulb can finish maturing. I got a bunch of these in my CSA share over the last few weeks and went to the internet to figure out what to do with them. They are too tough to just cut up and eat as you would a green onion but they have a beautiful, sweet, fresh garlic flavor.
The first thing I tried was making garlic scape pesto. I removed the flower buds and cut the scape into 2 inch pieces which I then ground up in my food processor. I then drizzled in olive oil until I reached the consistency of a rough paste. Then it is just a matter of adding a little salt and pepper to finish it. I love the fresh garlicky taste of this pesto and set off on finding dishes I could make with it.
Creamy Garlic Scape Pizza:
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup béchamel sauce
1 tsp garlic scape pesto
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup green olives
3/4 cup fresh cheese curds
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
I have a simple bread machine recipe for pizza dough that I like to use, the bread machine takes all of the time and effort out of this. I can even set a timer so it is ready for me when I get home if I am out all day.
While the dough was in the bread machine I made one recipe of the béchamel sauce from a prior blog post and set it aside to cool. Then I added in 1 tsp garlic scape pesto.
I rolled out the pizza dough onto a square cookie sheet, brushed on the olive oil and blind baked it for about 3 minutes in a 475 degree oven to crisp it up a bit. When the pizza skin came out of the oven I spread on the béchamel sauce until the skin was covered with a thin coat, it took about a cup. Then I topped it with tomato, sliced green olives spinach, and fresh cheese curds. I then grated the parmesan cheese on top and baked at 500 until the cheese started to brown and the sauce was bubbly. Allow to cool so the sauce will set up, slice and enjoy.
Garlic Bread made with Garlic Scape
Garlic bread is a favorite in this household and there is no better way to make it than with garlic scape pesto. Raw garlic is harsh and garlic butter can get really greasy. Garlic scape pesto has a nice amount of oil and will give a fresh garlic taste without it being over powering.
1 loaf of french bread (I used my bread machine for this as well)
Garlic Scape Pesto – enough to cover off the surface of the bread
Fresh Cheese Curds
Take your loaf of french bread and slice it down the middle horizontally butter it lightly and spread with the garlic scape pesto, I like a nice layer across the whole surface, you can be generous with it. Then top with fresh cheese curd and put into a 475 degree oven until it is bubbly and the cheese starts to brown. This is no doubt the best garlic bread I have ever had.
I have one more recipe that I want to share with you but I will do that in my next post later this week. Sloppy Joe’s on panini pressed french bread topped with garlic scape pesto. It is a winner.
This is an amazing ingredient that I was not familiar with but you can pick it up at many of the local farmers markets in Nova Scotia in July and early August.
I would like to thank my farmers for the following ingredients:
Tomato, Spinach, Garlic Scape : Taproot Farms
Milk for the Béchamel and Cheese Curds: Fox Hill Cheese House
Flour for my bread and crust: Speerville Mills
Week 7 of my 52 week CSA experience sees more spring greens coming my way. There are beet greens which were a favorite of my grandfather, kale, mixed salad greens and stinging nettle ?!?! Yeah that was my thinking, but one of the advantages of having your own farmer is that they can tell you all about new products and how to use them.
Here is a clip from the email (which Taproot sends out a couple days before the share arrives) to explain how to use this product. I will give you this because I have no clue what to do with it :).
From My Farmer: Taproot Farms
The nettle seems to create some sort of fear. Please do not be afraid and don’t let the kids at them until they have been blanched. If you touch them you will get a bit of a tingle/sting. Dump from bag into water to rinse and then into your pot for steaming. We encourage you to embrace the nettles. There are lots of recipes for them. They are super good for you. We have recipe ideas shared by members on our blog. You can just put nettles in the search area and see what comes up. Please share your ideas with us. Use them for fresh tea, dehydrate them for future tea use, add to bread or biscuits, blanch and freeze for use another day, or make into this delicious soup that people have raved about once they tried it.
Delicious Cream of Nettle Soup
1 pound of nettle leaves
2 Tbsp oil or butter
1 minced onion
4 tsp chopped chives
3 tbsp flour
2 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 cup cream
Heat oil or melt butter into soup pot. Saute onion until soft. Add chives and flour and stir until blended. Slowly stir in stock, beating with wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except cream and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add in cream and heat until just boiling. Season to taste. Run soup through a sieve and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.
I am going to try this recipe and will garnish with more fresh chives (probably garlic chives) and some fresh grated parm. I am excited to try this.
I got some more apples in my box, and have already filled the slow cooker with them. I cored and quartered them and caramelized them off. I have added ginger and other spices and will be turning them into delicious apple butter.
There are also a couple of nice frozen tomatoes, which will be made into pizza sauce, carrots which will be eaten raw and by special request the parsnips will be turned into a puree again.
I absolutely loved my fiddle heads last week, which I blanched off and combined with a lemon cream sauce and tossed into pasta. They were amazing and I am seriously thinking about creating a breakfast with english muffins, fiddleheads, poached eggs topped with a cream sauce. I think this will be a great Sunday breakfast, what do you think?
I had some more apple cider which you will notice in the pictures never gets photographed before it is opened :). I love that stuff. I also have frozen strawberries and cranberries. The strawberries and half the cranberries will be used to make fresh jam and the other half of the cranberries will be put into an orange cranberry muffin.
I am thrilled for another great week of farm fresh food curtsey of my friends at Taproot farms and Noggins Corner Farm Market.
Sometimes you just need a quick bite to eat and you dont want to make a fuss. These are the times when we can slip into eating high salt, high fat poor quality processed foods. My secret in combating this is to not have it in my house. Does that mean I am stuck taking a lot of time and effort to make a quick meal? Of course not. People have been making quick delicious meals at home long before Kraft or Campbell’s came into being and they will be doing so long after our addiction to this stuff has passed.
I wanted a quick lunch yesterday and I looked to my refrigerator. I make it a habit to have some boiled potatoes around when ever possible. I had thawed a half a pound of grass fed ground beef and decided a burger would be nice. When you have amazing beef all you need is a little salt and pepper in the burger to bring out the natural flavors. I added about 1/4 tsp of salt and a few turns of pepper.
I had some rolls I made the day before and so I made the patty in the shape of those rolls and heated up a fry pan. I took one of the potatoes I had in the fridge and cut it into steak fry pieces, added a little oil to another pan on medium high heat and added in some spices (garam masala, chili powder and garlic). You can use what ever you have on hand that tastes good. I put the potatoes into the hot oil, and the patty into the hot no stick pan. I flipped them when required and focused on the rest of my meal.
While those were cooking I toasted off a bun and then pulled out a jar of Sesame Ginger Sauce for littlered kitsch’n. Now if your are a regular at the Halifax Market you have probably met Jenna, the owner of this wonderful little business. She make ready to eat meals, amazing desserts and sauces for your convenience. If you need a quick meal I would defiantly talk to Jenna. She uses local ingredients and her food is honest and delicious. I keep a jar of her sauce around for times like this when I don’t want to make my own. It is really very good. I also had some pickled sweet carrots from Shani’s Farm on hand to round out my lunch.
Finally I decided some cheese was required and had a little Fox Hill Cheese Fenugreek cheese on hand. I melted under the broiler and my lunch was finished. It was all local, very flavorful and was ready in ten minutes. One you get used to it you wont want to trade this for a bowl of instant microwave food or a burger from a fast food joint. There is really no going back.
As Always Thanks to my Local Providers :
Sesame Ginger Sauce : littlered kitsch’n
Ground Beef: Getaway Farm
Pickled Carrots: Shani’s Farm
Potatoes: Noggins Corner Farm Market
I have a few recipes I want to share with you that use chorizo sausage. Fresh chorizo is a key ingredient in mexican and south western American cooking. It adds great richness and flavour to dishes and I really enjoy it. As with all ground meat products I prefer to know what I am eating. For this reason I make most of my sausage meat at home, though there are a couple providers a the Halifax Market I trust and am hoping to visit to watch them in action.
I have already put up recipes for making homemade breakfast sausage and italian sausage. Chorizo is just another variation of that. The base is a good ground pork and then add some amazing seasoning and allow to sit over night.
1.5 pounds of ground pork (Berkshire pork of you can get it)
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 tsp sea salt
2 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper (increase or decrease based on your desire for heat)
1 tsp cumin (toast the seeds in a dry pan then grind for best results)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp mexican chili powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1.5 Tbsp White Wine
In a large bowl spread out the pork as thin as possible. Sprinkle half the spices over the pork, mix well. Spread out again and repeat. Mix well. Add in the white wine and stir. Cover and refrigerate for a couple hours, overnight is best.
This fresh sausage can be use in any recipe calling for chorizo.
Special Thanks to my local supplier Active Life Farm for providing me with amazing Berkshire pork and fantastic local garlic. They made this Chorizo special.
WippleTree CSA for providing the onion
Active Live Farm for providing the garlic
Noggins Farm Market for providing the carrots
Getaway Farm for providing the soup bone
Jost Vineyards for providing the wine
River View Herbs for providing the Thyme and Sage
And of course the Halifax Seaport Farm Market for giving me a great place to pick up my local products.