Sloppy Joe's

The merits of vacuum packing in the kitchen are numerous but freezing foods for later use with literally no freezer burn is especially advantageous. This Sloppy Joe recipe uses conventional cooking techniques to create a rich flavorful mix but uses VacMaster vacuum technology for portioning and freezing.

Sweetness is usually not my thing when it comes to savory meals but in this particular instance it is mandatory to achieve the true classic essence of the ‘Joe. As is my style, maple sugar fits the bill beautifully. Most recipes I have come across call for ketchup and though I’m not against it, I found that the combination of a quality canned tomato sauce with the addition of my local maple sugar offered all the tomatoey sweetness I needed, especially when it’s buffered by the chipotle chili and mustard powders. The splash of raw apple cider vinegar was the perfect brightness that this rich meaty meal needed.

You may have noticed the addition of a baking soda slurry that was added to the ground meat before cooking. This technique has been used widely in Asian cuisine over the years and has been gaining traction with home cooks here in the states over the last decade or so. Adding a solution of baking soda and water to ground meat raises the pH level on the meat’s surface, consequently allowing the proteins to better attract more water and then hold onto it during cooking. Another benefit is that the high pH level speeds up the Maillard reaction or the browning of the beef for better more rich beefy flavor. So the end result? Juicer and more flavor - suhWheet!

If your so inclined, a nice way to bring a bit more flavor to the party is letting the mixture simmer in your barbecue picking up the subtle smoke elements that raises this recipe to another level. If your barbecue isn’t available I’m happy adding a few shots of a high quality liquid smoke to the mix, Smokey Joe’s anyone?

Sloppy Joe Ingredients


For the ground meat:

• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

• 2 tablespoons water

• 2 pounds ground beef 85/15 blend, or leaner if available

For the Sloppy Joe: 

• 2-3 tablespoon beef tallow, or favorite brand, as needed

• 1 large onion, yellow or white, peeled, cored and finely chopped

• 4 large garlic, cloves, minced

• 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped

• 1 green pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped

• 1 tablespoon chipotle powder, or to taste

• 1-2 tablespoons or as needed dry mustard, or to taste

• 1-2 tablespoon maple sugar, or to taste

• 2 tablespoon thyme, dried

• 2 cups rich roasted beef stock sous vide, or favorite brand

• 1 can tomato sauce, high quality, 15 ounces

• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, raw

• coarse salt and ground pepper

For serving:

• 8 hamburger buns with sesame seeds, split and dry toasted

• bread and butter pickle chips

• cheddar cheese, sharp, thinly sliced or grated


• 1-2 teaspoons Smokey Joe, add liquid smoke

• Sloppy Tom aka Sloppy Jane, replace beef with ground turkey

• Sloppy Doe, replace beef with ground venison

• Buffalo Joe, replace beef with ground buffalo

• Sloppy Swine, replace beef with ground pork


For the meat:

1. In a large mixing bowl dissolve the baking soda and water with a whisk.

2. Add ground beef to bowl and break apart the beef using your hands and gently mix until the solution is fully distributed throughout the meat.

3. Let the meat sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

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For the Sloppy Joe:

1. Meanwhile, heat the tallow in a suitable large high sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium high.

2. Add the ground beef to pan and brown, while stirring and breaking the meat up.

3. When sufficiently browned and cooked through, remove from the pan leaving any crumbly brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

4. Replace the pan over the heat and add the onions, garlic, bell peppers and cook for about 5 minutes scraping up the brown bits, until softened, stirring as needed.

5. Push the onion mixture to the outside rim of pan leaving the center bare.

6. Add the chipotle and mustard powders to the center and toast the spices while constantly stirring with the spoon until fragrant being careful not to burn, about a minute or so.

7. Stir the onion mixture into the spices and add the maple sugar, thyme, salt and pepper.

8. Add the browned beef back to the pan along with the beef stock, tomato sauce and vinegar.

9. Simmer over medium to medium low heat for 30-45 minutes or until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally to continually break up the meat

10. When sufficiently thickened taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

For serving:

1. Spoon onto the toasted buns and top with cheese and pickles, serve immediately.

Sloppy Joe Image