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Sloppy Joes grow up just in time for the Super Bowl

Joe Gray
Sweet and Sticky Slow Cooked Short Ribs are another easy Super Bowl dish that will surely please a crowd.

As with many kids of the ’70s, one of my dinner favorites was sloppy Joes. I liked them better than burgers. I remember the first time Dad made them, flavored with those little packets of dried spices, onions and such. Dad, who worked days, had dinner duty most nights, as mom worked afternoons. I remember he was excited to have us try this new thing. We were suspicious of the new food, and I remember all four of us eating them with trepidation.

But we liked them and had them often, which is why being served sloppy Joes now as an adult is a nostalgia-inducing happy treat. There were smiles all around when my friend Ginna made them (without the spice packet and with a few out-of-the-ordinary toppings) for a “Top Chef” viewing party a while back, and you’ll surprise your friends with a grown-up taste of childhood if you serve them at your Super Bowl party this weekend.

Ginna put an Italian spin on her sandwiches by topping them with provolone cheese and a generous helping of jarred giardiniera, but New Jersey chef Ronaldo Linares, who has appeared on the Food Network show “Chopped,” takes cues from his Cuban father for his Cuban-style picadillo. Linares first browns the beef with spices and then combines it with a sofrito of sauteed peppers, raisins and olives.

As with any sloppy Joe filling, you could either cook the meat ahead of time and then keep it warm in a slow cooker, or let the entire beef-vegetable mixture simmer in the slow cooker all day while you’re waiting for kick-off. Put the slow cooker on the table with a vegetable tray and an assortment of rolls, tortilla chips and toppings for a make-your-own sloppy Joe bar.

It’s a step above what you might remember from your childhood, but served with a lusty red wine or strong IPA, it’s definitely a treat, even for grown-ups.

Sloppy Giuseppes