On my drive south from the mountains to my favorite little creek in Lower Alabama a couple of days ago, I entertained myself listening to podcasts via my Stitcher app. Two of the podcasts, including this Bon Appetit piece on retro comfort foods, talked about our nostalgia for the foods we grew up eating. Our favorites. Dishes served for special occasions. Mom’s or Dad’s specialty. The podcast offered updated versions of meatloaf (I will be adding the bacon braid to mine), grilled cheese sandwiches (I tried the mayo and grated cheese tricks today and loved the outcome), and tuna casserole (I’ll probably still pass), among others. At my house it was fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I suspect that each of my three sisters would answer the same. That, and the oatmeal cake topped with coconut, brown sugar and pecans which I still beg my mom to make for my birthdays.
I’m not sure what my boys will ultimately pick as their nostalgia foods… probably my slaw. Maybe Chicken Parmesan, maybe pan-fried catfish, maybe these Sloppy Joe Sliders…
Sloppy Joe Sliders
- 1 1/3 pounds ground beef (or turkey)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2/3 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed to remove excess moisture
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 cup ketchup (and yeah, it needs to be Heinz)
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 table spoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme plus extra for garnish
- 8 slider buns
- Brown the ground meat or turkey in a large skillet over medium high heat, using a spatula to break it up. When you are sure the meat is thoroughly browned, dump it in a colander to drain the extra fat.
- Wipe out the skillet, and heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onions, celery and carrots until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the zucchini to the pan and saute until any moisture has cooked off, then add the garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the meat back to the pan, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Then, stir in the ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, hot sauce and thyme.
- Stir in 1/2 cup water and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Toast the slider buns, top each bottom bun with the meat and garnish each plate with a sprig of thyme.