Now you Joe, and Joe-ing is half the battle

This ain’t no New Jersey sloppy joe.

This week we are getting messy with two different sloppy joe recipes. One is ground beef based and the second uses ground turkey. They’re both solid and the best part is that your ground meat choice is totally interchangeable if you want.

Robin’s turkey sloppy joe recipe is down below.

If you’ve never had a sloppy joe, it’s typically ground meat that is browned with chopped up veggies like onions or bell pepper and then cooked until everything comes together with a tomato based sauce and spices. Sloppy joes are typically served on a soft squishy white bread bun.

If you’re curious about where the sloppy joe comes from, has three theories. Theory one is that the origin point for sloppy joes could be Sloppy Joe’s bar in Havana, Cuba. Their second theory is that a bar called the Silver Slipper in Key West, Florida that was eventually renamed Sloppy Joe’s (based on Ernest Hemingway’s suggestion), could have been the root source of this particular sandwich. And the third suggestion is far away from Florida or Cuba, in Iowa, home of the loose meat sandwich (which is basically what a sloppy joe is, plus tomato sauces and spicing).

Most sloppy joe recipes I’ve seen (and the two you’ll see in this post) make a large number of sandwiches (8+). But the cool thing about sloppy joes is that they’re just as good the next day if they are properly warmed up. In some instances they might be better after the flavors have a chance to build and blend.

What most people think about when they think of sloppy joes. We’re making ours from scratch.

Warming up sloppy joes

It might be weird that we’re talking about heating up/warming up sloppy joes before we’re talking about making them, but I wanted to get this all out of the way. Unless you have a lot of potentially sloppy children, I think you’re going to have leftovers.

If you want to heat up a sloppy joe, there are two methods that I suggest:

  • Microwave: spoon out the amount that will fit in your bun/buns into a microwave safe bowl. For one sandwich I usually go 45 or 60 seconds. But your microwave will vary. You just want things to be hot (obviously).
  • Stove top: spoon out the amount that will fit into your buns into a small pot. For one sandwich you only need 3 or 4 minutes. You’ll need more time if you’re reheating a lot, but this is where you can just heat it up and taste or stick your finger in to judge the temperature.

I suggest the microwave technique for a single sandwich and if you’re warming up sloppy joe for multiple sandwiches, the stove top option might be easiest.

The soft squishy potato bun

These recently butter painted potato rolls were 85 grams each when shaped into buns (pre-baked weight).

All sloppy joes need a soft squishy bun and I’ve got a newish soft squishy bun recipe that I’ve been working on. If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m often using King Arthur Baking’s potato bun recipe. It’s a great recipe, but in the weights I’m using, it makes 9 or 10 buns and that’s just too many buns for most of my sandwich applications. The King Arthur recipe claims the recipe yield is 6 buns, but those would turn out to be huge buns. I weigh out around 85 or 90 grams and can easily get 9 buns from their recipe for that yield.

So I’ve scaled down the recipe a little and swapped the dry milk for regular milk (also works well with almond or alternate non-dairy milks). I’ve also tested this bun with potato flour or potato flakes and they seem to be somewhat interchangeable.

This bun recipe is great for sloppy joes, smash burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Bookmark it to make for your next backyard cookout.

2 hours and 45 minutes
Super soft potato buns

Need six super soft perfectly sized burger buns? The kind of bun that is slightly smaller than your burger patty so that you get a solid burger to bun ratio? Try this recipe.

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Here’s a quick video tweet of another batch of my potato buns that I made for burgers recently.

The turkey joe

The setup for turkey recipe

My wife, Robin, has been tweaking this sloppy joe recipe for at least fifteen years. It’s a bit sweet and a tad spicy but it all comes together and is a tried and tested recipe we both enjoy frequently.

I’m aware that there are folks out there that for strange reasons adamantly despise anything to do with turkey (they tweet at me often) and if that’s you, I’m happy to say that both of the sloppy joe recipes I’m sharing in this blog post can be made with either ground turkey, ground beef or even your choice of a plant based alternative (read my thoughts on Impossible/Beyond meat alternatives).

Robin’s recipe uses red wine, red wine vinegar, brown sugar and jalapenos which are all common ingredients but alter slightly from typical sloppy joe recipes.

40 minutes
Robin's turkey sloppy joes

A sloppy joe recipe that is sweet and spicy just like Robin. She is going to be mad at me when she reads this but it is true.

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Turkey sloppy joe
Turkey sloppy joe with pickled red onions (recipe below).

And now lets try a another sloppy sandwich.

The beef joe

All we’re missing is the beef.

I said this at least twice already, but the ground meat option in both of these recipes can be swapped around. This recipe is just the way I typically make mine with ground beef.

My recipe is considerably different than Robin’s. It’s less sweet and I don’t really add much heat at all. This sloppy joe recipe is much more like an old school sloppy joe recipe (minus the beer). If you would like to add some spice or heat, I would suggest finely chopping a jalapeno and adding it when you add your diced red pepper.

Texture tip: If you prefer your sloppy joes to be less chunky, I like to use a potato masher and mash the ground beef while it’s cooking. This is a simple way to break up the meat into smaller pieces and provides a different texture to the final joe mixture.

40 minutes
Jonathan's sloppy joes

Looking for an old school sloppy joe recipe that will bring you back to the days of your youth when your back did not hurt? This one will do that and leave you with a big comforting hug.

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The beef sloppy joe setup with pickled red onions that give things a new layer of flavor. We also occasionally will put pickles on a sloppy joe as well. Pickled red onion recipe down below.
Beef with sharp cheddar melted on the bottom bun.

The rest of the sandwiches

Sometimes you add cheese.

If I’m planning to put cheese on a sloppy joe, I like to toast my buns under the broiler, add some sloppy joe mix and then put the cheese on top and slip it back under the broiler open faced for just a minute or so until things get melty.

Turkey sloppy joe and melted munster cheese on a toasted potato roll.

Add some pickled veggies

Sometimes you add pickled red onion or other pickles.

Pickled vegetables or in this case pickled red onions are an easy way to add zip and tang and crunch to any sandwich. We also have added dill pickles to sloppy joes, there are just no photos available to prove this fact. But it works and is a great way to change up your sloppy joe if you’re eating it a couple nights in a row.

5 minutes
Pickled red onions

Pickled red onions are a tangy and slightly sweet addition to a sandwich that will add texture and crunch. This is a super easy and quick recipe that will add a big flavor bang to your next sandwich.

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Beef sloppy joe and pickled red onions.

Biscuit Joes!

And sometimes you add biscuits.

I made these because I had leftover sloppy joe and someone told me September was National Biscuit Month. I try to follow the rules. Not sure if I ever would have thought about doing this, but it was actually really good. Sort of like small sloppy joe sliders but biscuit-y-er.

After enjoying these, I would also recommend just serving sloppy joe mixture spooned on top of open face, toasted biscuits, like biscuits and gravy.

Biscuit joes with melted extra sharp cheddar
Biscuit joes with melted swiss cheese.

Be more sloppy

Sloppy joes are great. They’re easy to make and fun to eat. If you’ve never made them before, give it a shot. Add something sloppy to your easy dinner rotation. If you know you have a busy week coming up, you can make a batch of these on Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a couple of nights of very quick dinners during the week.

Check back next week when I make a sandwich named after a military man who died before knowing he’d been immortalized as a sandwich.

Carolina on my dog

“I always look for a hot dog wherever I go.” – Martha Stewart

Controversial statement incoming.

I’m one of those people who consider hot dogs to be sandwiches.

That sound you just heard was my friend, JP, reading the last sentence and closing down her internet browser in disgust.

Sorry JP! All the rest of you, please keep reading:

One of my favorite regional hot dog styles is the one from North Carolina where I grew up. The Carolina dog is made up of chili, coleslaw, chopped onions and sometimes mustard (it’s better with mustard). This regional hot dog style is basically considered standard “all the way” in parts of North and South Carolina. If you’ve never had one of these, the chili and the slaw might be different from versions you’ve seen or experienced. We’ll discuss those in full with my recipes below.

The origin of the Carolina Dog is pretty much up in the air. Wikipedia claims that a place in Wilmington NC, called Merritt’s Burger House, has been serving this style since 1958, but there’s nothing else online to back that up. Even the linked article doesn’t really say they’ve been serving this style of burger or hot dog since that time. Melvin’s in Elizabethtown NC, claims that they have been making a burger with chili and slaw for 80 years, but I’ve found nothing really saying when or where the Carolina style hot dog started. We’re going to have to hire some food detectives to figure this out. I’m not the guy to do it.

If you’ve never cooked a hot dog before, Nathan’s Famous has a pretty good guide for cooking hot dogs. I cook my hot dogs on a grill outside or inside on a grill pan or skillet. Nathan’s Famous does tell you that it’s ok to microwave a dog, but not ok to boil one. As a kid I remember a lot of microwaving of hot dogs for quick lunches that didn’t require turning on the stove or oven. I just remember putting a hot dog in a bun and wrapping it in a paper towel. Forty five seconds later I was enjoying a hot lunch (with just ketchup probably).

Here are the ingredients I like to prepare for my favorite hot dogs.

Hot dog potato rolls

Consistent readers already know I’ve talked about the King Arthur’s Potato Bun recipe a few times recently. I whipped up the same recipe again this week, but I shaped them into torpedoes or hot dog shapes.

Here’s a video I made of how I shape dough into that shape. The video is for a longer roll than a hot dog roll, but it’s the same technique. The recipe in the video is for rolls that are similar to my sub sandwich rolls.

I like to make my buns fit my hot dogs. I don’t want any extra bites of just bun if I can help it, so I usually weigh my dough into 80 gram (or even 75 gram) portions. Then I shape that portion into a ball and let it rest for a few minutes (while I shape the rest). Then I flip the ball over, exposing the bottom tucked side to the top and leaving the smooth top on the surface of the counter. This means the smooth part will end up on top when you’re done.

Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle about the length of your hot dog. I make my dough rectangle about a quarter inch thick. Then I roll from the side closest to me away from me to make a log.

Then the most important part is getting the seam sealed tightly by pinching your fingers. Once the seam is very tightly pinched, I flip the dough log so that the seam is on the bottom touching the counter and I roll the log back and forth on top of the seam to flatten out the places where I pinched the dough. Then you place the dough log seam side down on your pan and press it down a little to keep if from being a perfectly round cylinder.

You want to get your dough logs about an inch or an inch and a half apart on your sheet pan. They don’t have to touch, but if you are looking for New England style split top rolls, put them a little bit closer together (like an inch). They will rise to about double after shaping and then rise again in the oven.

Some finished hot dog buns.

Hot dog chili

This is not typical chili. There are no beans, but it’s also not chunky with hunks of meat like Texas chili. Hot dog chili is made from ground beef that’s mashed or chopped and not full of beans or onions. In some recipes hot dog chili is sent through a food processor, but you can do the same thing with a potato masher.

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Hot dog chili

No beans in this chili, but it's perfect for topping a hot dog or burger. This type of chili is also superb for chili cheese fries.

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Hot dog slaw

This is sweeter than the slaw I usually make, but it’s similar to what you’ll find in a lot of Eastern North Carolina barbecue joints or hot dog stands. I enjoy it on occasion and it works really well with the chili, but feel free to omit the sugar entirely if you’re averse to a sweet slaw.

Recipe Card
15 minutes
Hot dog slaw

This is a fairly sweet slaw, but that's what is traditional in a Carolina Dog. You could easily just cut the sugar in half or omit it all together if you want a simple slaw that isn't very sweet.

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The Carolina dog

Let’s put all the pieces together.

Carolina dogs are typically bright red hot dogs with hot dog chili, a sweet slaw and chopped onions. They also often will have mustard added as a fourth item. The wikipedia page for “Hot dog variations” claims that people have been making Carolina style hot dogs since at least 1958.

When you study other hot dog variations on that page, you’ll learn that West Virginia is very very similar to a Carolina dog. Georgia also often has a dog with chili and mustard or sometimes only slaw. There are other regional hot dogs with chili like the Pink’s Chili Dog from Los Angeles and then you have a Coney dog from Michigan but Coney chili traditionally is made from ground up beef heart instead of regular ground beef.

I like to build my Carolina dogs with chili on the bottom, then slaw and then plain yellow mustard on top. About half of the time I leave out the raw chopped onions. I don’t think raw chopped onions add that much, but feel free to add them to yours.

Here are some of my finished Carolina dogs.

I ate a few hot dogs this week. Here are a few of them.

Split top potato bun stuffed with hot dog, chili, slaw and mustard.

The Glenn and the messiness problems

The Glenn

A friend named Glenn has commented on my hot dog photo tweets before and always recommends to put the mustard underneath the slaw and chili and that will help the hot dog not be so messy to eat. I tried it and named this version: The Glenn.

I do think he’s right, but the hot dog is way prettier with mustard on top. If you want to avoid messiness, build your dog like Glenn does.

Now let’s talk about the next logical step with these ingredients.

Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger

The Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger was first introduced at a Wendy’s in Rockingham, North Carolina. Wendy’s did not invent this style of cheeseburger, but they did a lot to add recognition outside of the small North/South Carolina burger joints and hot dog stands. Here’s a video of ol’ Dave Thomas being introduced to the Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger from back in 1995.

Growing up in Eastern North Carolina, I learned early on that “all the way” for a burger meant chili, slaw, chopped onion and mustard. On family trips to White Lake, NC we’d visit a place called Melvins’ in Elizabethtown. Melvin’s is amazing. The line could be fifty people long and it just flies in minutes. Because they’re so busy and they’re cooking burgers constantly they claim that it takes just 10 seconds to get a burger made to order. They open up at 7:30 am and start selling burgers. No breakfast, just burgers. And the line starts that early too, proving that burgers are a breakfast food.

Since I had the slaw and chili and a leftover bun from Breaded Pork Tenderloin week, I decided to recreate the “all the way” burger I grew up with. I even went so far as to make my burger patty square in honor of Dave Thomas.

My own Carolina Classic burger with a square patty. Quarter pound burger with cheese, chili, slaw, chopped onions and mustard on a toasted bun.

Everything’s better with some pimento cheese

Couldn’t let this opportunity of hot dog buns and chili go to waste without using a little pimento cheese. Make some chili and slaw (and even pimento cheese) to have available for hot dog and cheeseburger toppings at your next backyard cookout! Fourth of July is coming up and so is the rest of your life! Put these easy recipes on your list of backyard necessities for burgers and hot dogs of all seasons.

Chili and pimento cheese dog.

Burgers three ways

I made some burgers and now you get to read about them (and look at them).

Two or three times a year I plan to delve a bit deeper and write about the toppings of the burgers I make at home. This week I made the following burgers:

All three of these burgers are simply 80/20 ground chuck with salt and pepper. I don’t like to mess around too much with spices in my burgers, but you obviously can if you want. That’s up to you. You are, after all, the Tina Turner of your own Hamburger.

Potato Buns

First we need to address the buns. The King Arthur Baking Hamburger Potato Buns recipe is one of my go-to bun recipes. You can use this for longer sub-like rolls or even weigh out pretty small sizes for sliders or hot dog buns. This recipe does require you to have potato flour and special dry milk in your pantry, but I make this bun style often enough to keep those items on hand. It also helps that both of these ingredients have a fairly long shelf life – even longer if you keep them in the fridge. The point of the potato flour is that it absorbs moisture in the dough and it leaves you with a more moist hamburger bun that will stay fresh longer.

Since I was making hamburger buns, I decided to add some toppings to some of the buns. That’s a super easy way to change up your hamburger rolls or hot dog buns. Just prior to baking, simply brush each bun with an egg wash (one whole beaten egg and a tablespoon of water) and apply your bun toppings liberally. I like to use Everything Bagel Seasoning (Amazon affiliate link), but you can use poppy seeds, sesame seeds or even something like dried onion flakes.

Sliced hamburger potato roll.

All American burger

This was a diner-style griddle burger, not a smash burger. I weighed out my ground beef into two 3 ounce portions and formed it into two patties. I typically use parchment paper and use my hands to form a round patty that is wider than my bun. In this case I flattened them into two fairly thin patties. You want to make your patty wider than your bun because the meat will shrink as it cooks. I like to form patties on a scrap of parchment paper because you can use that to flip them onto your hot griddle or skillet.

The ingredients for my All American burger are: two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, … tomato … on a sesame seed bun. The pickles I used were my MSG pickle recipe and the sauce I used here is a super easy sauce recipe I use for burgers and other sandwiches.

5 minutes
Special sandwich sauce

Great substitute for mayonnaise but way more flavorful. Perfect on a burger or even as dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.

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You can add finely diced pickles or onions to this sauce as well. And those seeking a little heat could opt for sriracha or another hot sauce to liven things up.

The All American burger. Two formed beef patties, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.

Blue cheese and bacon jam

Blue cheese and sweet and savory bacon jam is a great combination of big flavors. I’ve shared my bacon jam recipe before and it is fantastic paired with blue cheese. For this burger I went with a hefty scoop of bacon jam and a wide but thin slice of blue cheese on an everything bagel bun.

You could go with blue cheese crumbles as well, but in my experience those end up falling off the burger and make a bit of a mess. Thinly slicing from a wedge of blue cheese helps your cheese stay in the mix.

Slice of blue cheese, bacon jam on a everything bagel seasoned bun.

Onion all the way

My onion all the way burger is very similar to a smash burger. I wrote about smash burgers a few months ago and most of those tips and tools apply here.

This burger is a lot like an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The burger historian himself, George Motz, can explain what that is better than I can. Here’s a video with Motz for Martin’s potato roll’s youtube channel where he explains and makes an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The simple explanation (if you don’t want to watch the video) is that this is a burger that is smashed and griddled along side sliced up onions.

The main difference in my burger is that I smashed the burger balls into the hot surface with thinly sliced onions. Motz’s recipe tells you to smash the onions into the burger balls forming patties with onions on the top side. Then when you flip, you end up cooking the onions while cooking the second side of the patty. I like to put the onions down first and smash my patties into the already cooking onions. It works great either way though, so experiment yourself and see what you think.

The slide show below shows the simple steps I follow to smash this onion burger.

Why make a burger with one type of onions when you can make a burger with two types of onions? Here’s my onion ring recipe.

Fried onion rings

Crispy and light onion rings are perfect as a side dish or placed inside a sandwich.

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Salt or season your fried onion rings right as they come out of the frying oil.

Here’s my finished Onion All The Way burger. I also used special sauce on this one as well.

Onion all the way burger. Two onion smashed patties, American cheese, two onion rings, special sauce on a plain potato roll.

And that’s it. Three burgers I made that hopefully will inspire you to make some of your own.

Don’t forget that Father’s Day is coming up. If you have the chance to see your Dad, offer to make him a burger. Pretty sure that Dads like burgers. If he also loves to cook burgers, I have several burger cooking tools listed in my smash burger post. Check those out. Next week I’ll be writing about another sandwich. I think this one may contain pork. Stay tuned!

Meatloaf smeatloaf double beatloaf

Randy from A Christmas Story really had a beef with meatloaf.

A lot of folks, like Randy, do not like meatloaf. Maybe that’s because they have not had the right opportunities to enjoy a good one? I remember enjoying my Mom’s meatloaf fairly often as a kid, usually with potatoes of some preparation and corn or some sort of green vegetable that she had lovingly prepared.

Back then, I never really turned meatloaf into leftover sandwiches, but I’ve come to learn that I enjoy a meatloaf sandwich almost as much as the sliced-on-the-side-of-potatoes version. Luckily a typical meatloaf is large enough to turn into multiple servings so you can enjoy it both ways. Meatloaf also reheats very well. It can be reheated either in the microwave, toaster oven or the best option would be in a skillet to crisp up both sides.

This week I made my favorite meatloaf recipe and I turned it into several sandwiches. You can read along to see what steps I took and what recipes I used.

Dutch crunch potato buns

Is it a tiger or a giraffe?

With a crunchy, crackly, sweet exterior and a soft pillowy interior these are awesome rolls for a meatloaf sandwich. Toasted or untoasted they work well. Dutch crunch, also known as tiger bread (or sometimes giraffe bread) is slathered with rice flour, sugar, yeast and oil prior to baking and that mixture bakes into a craggly crunchy surface on the exterior of the roll.

Dutch crunch has become very popular as a sandwich bread in the Northern California area over the past few years. Theirs seems to be a much more firm doughy bread, whereas mine is based on a soft potato dough, so the interior of my buns are very soft. As usual, I’m not doing something that’s totally traditional here, but I feel that since sliced meatloaf is fairly soft on the sliced sides, you don’t really want a hard bread to serve as the boundaries of your sandwich.

Below is the recipe I have worked on for a few weeks. The first time I tried it I ended up applying too much glaze and it did not crack properly. But it still was crunchy and left you with a sweet crust. The glaze is much like the texture of glue and you only want a thin, even layer to achieve the proper tiger/giraffe pattern. Give the recipe a try, it’s a good one for all sorts of sandwiches.

Dutch crunch potato buns

Great crunch and a soft interior on rolls with a sweet and flavorful crust make for very good sandwiching. This recipe requires three ingredients that you might not have, but it's well worth the investment.

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The meatloaf

I based this recipe very loosely off of my Mom’s meatloaf. She is not a big fan of spicy food, so she never used sriracha in hers. I’m not even sure if we could get sriracha where I lived when I was growing up. Mom also baked her meatloaf in a loaf pan, whereas my recipe is baked freeform on a sheet pan. This allows me the ability to baste the meatloaf with my sriracha ketchup glaze which I do in fifteen minute intervals during the bake.

Sriracha glazed meatloaf

An addictively spicy glaze on this meatloaf will leave you craving more. Add a slice between buns or slices of bread and you've got yourself a winner.

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The other stuff

Special sauce

This is one of the sauces I make for my smash burgers if I’m not using mayonnaise. I uploaded this recipe without finely diced pickles in the sauce, but that’s definitely an alternate version of the sauce that I really enjoy. The addition of the pickle juice means you don’t need the pickles, but it their addition gives it a bit of texture and visual appeal. Sometimes I’ll grate some yellow onion into this sauce too. But the simple version is the one I was using this week on my meatloaf sandwiches.

5 minutes
Special sandwich sauce

Great substitute for mayonnaise but way more flavorful. Perfect on a burger or even as dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.

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Adding an extra crunchy element to any sandwich is a good call in my book. I fried up some thinly sliced shallots for a few of my meatloaf sandwiches this week and here’s the process I used. It’s barely a recipe with only two ingredients, but the temperatures of the frying oil and times are fairly important. Shallots also go from very blonde in color to super dark within the span of less than a minute, so you have to keep your wits about you when frying.

Crispy fried shallots

These are supposed to be a crispy topper for a sandwich, but they quickly evolve into a pre-dinner snack. Be careful.

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Two examples of my meatloaf sandwiches

Sriracha glazed meatloaf on a Dutch crunch roll with special sauce and cheddar.
Fried shallots and pickles on a sriracha glazed meatloaf with white cheddar and special sauce.

And an extra version

meatloaf sandwich with cheddar on sliced toasted bread
I made this one a few weeks ago with the same sriracha glazed meatloaf recipe. Bread was a sliced hearth bread and cheddar toasted in a pan with butter.

Bake more meatloaf! Sandwich more meatloaf!

Bbq sauce braised short rib sandwich

I made the McShortRib

Two different versions of short rib sandwiches this week. Maybe next week I’ll tackle long ribs?

I cooked up 4 pounds of short ribs this week and made a couple different versions of sandwiches. First I’m going to talk about the McShortRib sandwich that I made which is a riff on McDonald’s McRib. Then after the bbq braised rundown, I’m also going to talk briefly about a second beer braised short rib recipe that I added to multiple grilled cheese sandwiches that I also ate this week.


The McRib is not always available at McDonalds. They seem to release it for a few weeks every two or three years and because of that rare random release schedule it has become a fan favorite. I personally haven’t had a McRib this century because of my fairly infrequent trips to the restaurant and its sporadic appearance on the menu but I do remember liking the combination of the pickles and onions with barbecue sauce.

The bun

For the bun we needed a white bread roll about 6 inches long. I am a big fan of the King Arthur potato bun for burgers, so I started that dough and after the first rise, I shaped it in long roll form (100 gram portions). The McRib has corn meal on top, so I dusted mine fairly liberally when forming and before baking.

BBQ sauce braised short ribs

For the meat portion of this sandwich, I braised some short ribs in a homemade bbq sauce. McDonald’s McRib is ground pork weirdly formed to look like there are bones in the patty. The short ribs I used are beef, so this isn’t really a copy cat recipe, it’s more of a sandwich inspired by another.

I portioned my bbq braised short ribs in two bone hunks.

The sauce this recipe makes isn’t the vinegar based sauce from my home state of North Carolina, this is more akin to a Kansas based sauce; sort of like what you might find in a bottle at the store. You could definitely spice things up here with a bit of cayenne pepper in the sauce, but since I was attempting to emulate McDonald’s McRib, I went with a sweet sauce base.

Once the meat was cooked, I skimmed off as much fat from the top of the sauce and discarded it. After that I was able to pull large pieces of short rib for arranging in the sandwich. This isn’t just one big piece like the actual McRib. I think to do that you’d have to grind meat for patty formation; short ribs just aren’t shaped in a way to find a roughly three by six inch shape.

Just below I have linked the full recipe for my bbq sauce braised short ribs. They would be fantastic on top of polenta, grits or even mixed into mac and cheese, but pulled or sliced off the bone they are a very solid addition to a sandwich. You can also add all the ingredients in the sauce in a pot and bring it to boiling and simmer for 10 minutes or so to just have a sweet homemade bbq sauce.

BBQ sauce braised short ribs

A sweet sticky sauce braises short ribs until they are tender. Great on a bun and can easily be served as the main dish at your dinner table.

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This week I also made these fantastic pickles. An online acquaintance shared this tweet from Joshua Weissman about MSG pickles. I tried the recipe a day or so after seeing it and found that I wanted a bit more sweetness and the pickles could definitely use some heat.

If you’re worried about the use of MSG, you can leave it out but it really brings a lot to the recipe. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote a very thorough run down on what MSG actually is and the reasons why you shouldn’t be worried about consuming it. It seems that a very small percentage of people can have some sort of sensitivity to MSG but otherwise it’s not as scary as we were lead to believe in the 1970s and 80s.

Note: these pickles will pick up more spice as they age, so when you taste them the second day they will not be as spicy as they will be on the third or fourth day. If you really are looking for something super spicy I suggest you double the red pepper flakes.

25 minutes
Spicy MSG pickles

Spicy and dilly and savory pickles are great as a snack or in a sandwich. A great addition to any refrigerator. I based this recipe off of this tweet from Joshua Weissman and added extra spice.

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The final thing I did was slice up some yellow onion. I bet McDonald’s uses white onion, but I prefer the sweeter yellow option. Add the bread, meat, pickles and onions and I created a very tasty sandwich. See if you can figure out which one is mine and which is McDonald’s in the photo below? You get three chances and the first two don’t count.

Compare: McDonald’s McRib on the left and my McShortRib on the right.

Please don’t lick the screen. There’s a pandemic.

Short rib grilled cheeses (or short rib melts)

I also whipped up this beer braised short rib recipe. If you don’t want to use beer, you could use wine or just add more of the beef broth.

Beer braised short ribs

Juicy tender short rib meat is perfect for a grilled cheese or piled up on a bun with some crunchy slaw.

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The bread recipe I made for my caesar sandwiches made two loaves so I froze the second for a few days and thawed it out after I cooked beer braised short ribs. If you didn’t already know, bread freezes and thaws very well. If you can’t eat a whole loaf, you should freeze some and save it for later.

Fontina is a great melting cheese and the cheddar/gruyere added extra flavor.

A smear of butter on the outside is how I like to make my grilled cheese/melt sandwiches. I have tried the mayo on the outside trick, but if your butter is room temperature it should spread and cover the surface just as well as mayo. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, it’s basically just a tip that mayo browns as well as butter on a griddle. If your butter is super firm and hard to spread because it’s straight from the fridge, you might find that spreading a thin layer of mayo on the outside of your sandwich will help you achieve really consistent browning.

I used shredded fontina and gruyere and a few chunks of short rib. On one sandwich I added pickled red onions and the other was just the meat and cheese.

Short rib melt
Just the meat and cheese please.
Added a little picked red onion for texture and zing.

And there you it. Two versions of short ribs and two versions of sandwiches that you can try. Short ribs are super easy to make, they just take a bit of time and planning to cook. But your kitchen will smell fantastic for a whole time and get you excited about the meal you’re about to consume. Go forth and short rib sandwich!

Hungry-Man Salisbury Steak

Are you a Hungry Man?

A hungry man made The Hungry Man sandwich. Hard to believe but it’s true.

I remember eating many meals from the freezer section during my time in college and a popular Hungry-Man selection was a go-to for me. At that time in my life, Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and green beans was a quick and consistent option from the frozen food aisle.

If you’re not familiar with a recipe for Salisbury Steak or if no one makes it on the island where you live, it was created at some point in the late 1800’s and got its name from Dr. James Salisbury. In the current era, Salisbury Steak is simply seasoned ground beef sautéed until brown on both sides, served with a thickened savory mushroom gravy. Conagra, the company that makes Hungry-Man frozen specialties, thinks that the beef needs grill marks on it, so they bought a machine that sears those on with a branding iron during processing (I’m guessing).

Not sure when I got the idea to turn Salisbury steak into a sandwich, but once I started thinking about it I was surprised it wasn’t more popular. Meat and gravy on a sandwich? Sign me up!

I’ve done a little research (googling) and I have seen that there are quite a few websites with recipes for a Salisbury steak sandwich, but I don’t think I’ve seen it on a menu or heard about it being served in a restaurant. I did learn that there have been more than nine thousand two hundred minutes of Diners Drive-ins and Dives shown on Food Network, and no one has ever made a Salisbury steak sandwich on that show!

That’s an atrocity. So I made one.

Salisbury Steak Sandwich

Not just a tv dinner anymore! Salisbury steak and mushroom gravy are fantastic on a sandwich. Add a slice of cheese if you want to treat yo self!

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After I turned it into a pretty good sandwich, I knew I had to take it a step further and make the Hungry-Man version (minus the brownie, because this is a kid friendly website). But first, I wanted to relive the experience of Hungry-Man’s Salisbury Steak.

Let’s try:

The Brownie spread into the mashed potatoes and green beans. I still tried them…

I bought a blue box with 16 ounces of frozen stuff in it for less than four bucks. Around 9 am Sunday morning I decided was a perfect time to steam some meat and veggies in the microwave. The microwave instructions are far more prominent on the back of the box so I’m guessing that’s what is used most often.

In what seemed to be a factory mishap, the brownie batter in the package I bought had already spread into the green beans and mashed potatoes before I put it into the microwave. This caused a small problem, but nothing had spread into the Salisbury Steak sauce or meat which is what I was mostly interested in anyway.

Eight and a half minutes later, the patties seem extremely dense like they were packed super tight leaving them with a somewhat rubbery texture. The sauce is thin but still really salty and savory. Of the other side dishes/brownie, they’re fine (albeit a bit chocolaty) and nothing to write home about. The brownie flavor is rich, but again it was microwaved so it’s spongy and the texture isn’t great.

I didn’t learn much about Salisbury Steak from reliving this experience. The convenience factor is clearly why I and many other people stocked these in their freezers. Microwaving it will have dinner on your table in 8.5 minutes. If you used the oven directions instead of microwave, this would take you almost an hour including oven preheating time. It didn’t even take me an hour to make my Salisbury Steak recipe from scratch.

Now back to the project at hand:

I had what I considered to be a good Salisbury Steak sandwich recipe but I needed a way to introduce the mashed potatoes and the green beans. After the 2020 Pandemic Christmas when we all had extra leftovers, I tried frying mashed potatoes and putting that into a sandwich. It worked ok, but at that time I didn’t use enough bread crumbs to keep it crispy.

Here’s the Fried Mashed Potato recipe that I’ve refined slightly:

Fried Mashed Potato Patty

A soft on the inside but crispy on the outside potato patty is a great addition to a savory sandwich. Remember this recipe whenever you have leftover mashed potatoes

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I didn’t make a formal recipe for the green bean puree because what I made was literally one ingredient. I took a can of roasted garlic french cut green beans and I hit it with my immersion blender (after opening the can and dumping it into a bowl of course). After talking to my Mom about this crazy idea she was a little put off by the green bean puree (try not to think about baby food) but she did have the great suggestion to add a sprinkling of “those crispy fried onions” and I did.

Below is the finished sandwich: The Hungry Man. The roll is my potato roll recipe that I’m still testing and will share soon. I toasted the roll, added a tiny bit of green bean puree to the bottom roll, stacked the crispy mashed potato then a Salisbury Steak and mushroom gravy and topped it all with a little bit more green bean puree. Over all it was a pretty flavorful sandwich. The crunch of the fried mashed potato patty was pleasant and believe it or not, the green bean puree added a nice flavor. The whole combination was very savory and it was more than I could eat but I did my best.

The Hungry Man Sandwich
The finished piece of sandwich art. I present The Hungry Man.

Would I make The Hungry Man sandwich again? Probably not.

Will I make a Salisbury Steak sandwich again? Definitely yes.