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By Sarah DiGregorio

  • YIELD4 servings
  • TIME20 minutes

This update on the kid-friendly classic uses half the meat as a traditional sloppy Joe recipe, but retains the qualities that everyone loves: a tart-sweet savoriness and a quick cooking time. You can substitute ground pork, turkey, lamb or plant-based ground meat for the beef; the key is to use a protein that’s not too lean. A little fat helps carry the flavor of the meat through the entire dish. (If you use plant-based meat or you only have lean meat on hand, add another tablespoon of olive oil or your preferred fat.) The addition of adobo sauce from a can of chipotles imparts smoke, with just a hint of heat. (If you’d like a spicier version, by all means, chop up one or two of the chipotles and add them.) The leftover chipotles keep for at least two weeks in the fridge or indefinitely in the freezer, and they are a welcome addition to many dishes, like chicken tacos or chili

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ pound ground beef, preferably 85 percent lean
  • 1 packed tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ cup canned or jarred tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or pinto beans, drained
  • 4 hamburger buns, preferably potato buns
  •  Tomato slices and pickle chips, for topping

 

PREPARATION

  1. Warm the oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over high heat. Add the onion, season with 1 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the bell pepper, then spread out the vegetable mixture and let it cook undisturbed for about 1 minute. Stir well and repeat, letting the vegetables cook undisturbed for another minute or so at a time. You want the onions and peppers to get softened, seared and browned in spots, about 5 minutes total.
  3. Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, making an empty spot in the middle of the pan, and add the ground beef. Season the beef with a pinch of salt, and smash it flat with a spatula, letting it cook undisturbed for 1 minute until brown underneath. Break up the beef with the spatula and cook 1 to 2 more minutes, until completely browned with no visible pink spots.
  4. Combine the vegetables and beef, then add the sugar and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute to toast the tomato paste. Add the garlic powder and cumin, then the tomato purée, adobo sauce and vinegar. Stir in the beans. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer to thicken slightly, about 3 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, toast the buns.
  6. With a fork, roughly smash some of the beans to thicken the mixture. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve on toasted buns, topped with tomatoes and pickles.